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District Attorney Terence Hallinan has decided to devote big-time resources to keep infractions charges against war protestors from being tossed, surprising at least one defense attorney who thought the DA wouldn’t bother. Prosecutors and staff in the district attorney’s office are “working almost around the clock” to file complaints in more than 200 cases by Friday, and another 100 or so by Monday, according to spokesman Mark MacNamara and Chief of Administration Linda Klee. They’re responding to orders San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Paul Slavit wrote Friday that said 99 altered citations the DA had filed in his court do not comply with penal or vehicle codes. He gave the DA 10 days to amend the filings, and said he’ll issue similar orders if he finds more altered citations among the hundreds yet to be reviewed. Roughly 2,300 people face infractions stemming from war protests in March. Many of the citations were altered to reflect reduced charges after they were signed by defendants. Solo Bobbie Stein, part of a team of pro bono attorneys coordinated by the National Lawyers Guild that is representing many of the protesters, filed the motion, calling the altered citations insufficient and seeking to have them thrown out. She said last week that if Slavit agreed with her she didn’t think the DA would file new accusatory pleadings. “It’s unbelievable,” Stein said. “The wiser decision is to let these things die a natural death.” Slavit’s orders have the DA’s office scrambling to file complaints in cases where it previously had filed altered citations. The DA’s office is trying to file more than 200 complaints before the next batch is scheduled for review Friday. It is also trying to file by Monday the 99 addressed in Slavit’s orders, Klee said. Stein said the DA’s decision to push the cases is fiscally irresponsible, given the difficulty of prosecuting individuals who were arrested en masse. “They are very difficult cases to prosecute,” Klee acknowledged, and it is taking “a huge amount of resources” to file complaints rather than citations. But despite the cost, she said, “I think the citizens of San Francisco have a right to feel they can walk down the street without being impeded.” The decision will be evaluated as the cases progress, Klee said. “We’re not going to futilely waste resources.” Stein said she thinks the DA is more worried about his reputation. “Somehow the district attorney is trying to save face because they didn’t charge these things properly,” she said. Klee staunchly defended the decision to file the altered citations. “There’s nothing wrong with doing that as long as the defendant doesn’t care,” Klee said. It’s been a standard procedure in the San Francisco DA’s office for decades, Klee said, and in this instance was meant to expedite cases and save money. “So far, not a single case has been dismissed based on anything we did,” Klee added. But in this case, she said, the defense decided to make it an issue. “It’s very common for a citation to be used in lieu of a complaint,” Slavit said. As for an altered citation, “I have seen it, but not frequently.” Stein’s demurrer was the first he’s seen challenging them, he added. Over four days of arraignments this month, Slavit dismissed about 200 of the protesters’ cases outright, based on lack of police reports, according to Jerry Washington, chief of the court’s traffic division. Outside of traffic court, the district attorney’s office is prosecuting about 20 misdemeanors associated with the war protests.

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