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Before she even took office Thursday, District Attorney Kamala Harris started pushing for a dedicated court to deal with murder cases. Harris told a standing-room-only crowd at her inauguration ceremony at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre that she aims to complete an audit of the city’s homicide cases within two months. And she said that she has already met with court officials and the city’s public defender to ask for a dedicated court to deal with what she calls a backlog of homicide cases. “By being smart on crime, we can and we will create a district attorney’s office that is both compassionate and effective,” Harris said. A host of legal and political figures from the city and state were on hand to watch California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George give Harris her oath of office. Outgoing DA Terence Hallinan watched from the front row, along with outgoing Mayor Willie Brown, newly sworn-in Mayor Gavin Newsom, and his wife and assistant-DA-on-leave, Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan were among the announced attendees. Harris pointed to two past Bay Area district attorneys she hopes to emulate — Earl Warren, a former Alameda County DA and California governor who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Dwight Eisenhower, and Edmund “Pat” Brown, a former San Francisco DA who rose to state attorney general and governor. Though Harris’ speech alluded to some of her criticisms of Hallinan from last year’s campaign, the new DA also lobbed a little praise toward her ex-boss and former opponent. She congratulated Hallinan for promoting progressive policies and diversifying his staff and vowed to continue at least two hallmarks of his tenure — selectively using the Three Strikes law and renouncing the death penalty. Hallinan said earlier in the week that he’s returning to private practice, downstairs from the Franklin Street law office of his brother Patrick. Even as Thursday’s ceremony proceeded, staffing changes were under way at the DA’s office. Murlene Randle, Hallinan’s No. 2, is going to work for Mayor Newsom, Hallinan said Thursday. Harris announced in December that Russell Giuntini, an assistant DA in Alameda County, will be her No. 2. Randle could not be reached for comment, and Hallinan said he was not sure what position she will fill. But San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ken Garcia wrote in Thursday’s paper that Randle is slated to take over the mayor’s criminal justice council. According to the city controller’s office, the director of the council under outgoing Mayor Brown made $120,571 a year, significantly less than Randle’s $170,500 annual salary in the DA’s office. A spokesman for Newsom would not confirm whether Randle is in line for the job. Hallinan’s confidential secretary of eight years, Christine Arrigale, said that Thursday was her last day. “This job is a very personal one, and I absolutely understand and expect that [Harris would] bring in her own confidential secretary,” Arrigale said. Hallinan said he signed layoff paperwork to accommodate two other employees who were considering leaving, Law Office Manager Reginald Smith and spokesman Mark MacNamara. “That allows them to get a little money while they’re looking for a job. I think that’s appropriate,” Hallinan said, referring to 30 days’ severance. Smith could not be reached for comment. MacNamara said Thursday that he won’t hand in Hallinan’s paperwork because he and Harris have reached an agreement whereby he will stay until Jan. 16, when she will lay him off. Harris’ volunteer spokeswoman for her transition and much of her campaign, Debbie Mesloh, will be the DA’s new press secretary, Mesloh said. Mesloh said she’s worked for Charles Schwab & Co.’s internal communications group and previously spent three years fielding press inquiries for Sen. Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco. Harris also announced Thursday that she’s recruiting an investigator from the Alameda County district attorney’s office, Louis Landini, to fill the chief investigator’s job in San Francisco. Landini worked in the San Francisco DA’s office for about 20 years, first as a prosecutor and then as assistant chief investigator, before he moved to Alameda’s office in 1997, Mesloh said.

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