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ROCK STAR HELPS DA HARRIS BALANCE BOOKS District Attorney Kamala Harris is throwing a rock concert. A far cry from the San Francisco prosecutor’s daytime duties, the acoustic performance she’s hosting — featuring Third Eye Blind singer Stephan Jenkins and singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton — is meant to help Harris retire her campaign debt. And it’s not the first time Harris has brought in well-known entertainers to help her raise some cash. In November, one of her campaign’s fund raisers featured playwright Eve Ensler, who wrote “The Vagina Monologues.” Though there was no official word Monday on how Jenkins and Carlton got involved in raising dimes for Harris, DA spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh said the district attorney met Ensler about two years ago when the playwright came to San Francisco for work related to V-Day, a nonprofit organization that aims to stop violence against women. Harris preached during her campaign that the city needed to do a better job prosecuting domestic batterers and pimps, among other criminals. By the end of last year, Harris’ 2003 campaign still needed to raise at least $63,000 to break even, according to recent campaign finance statements. The event will be Thursday at Sno-Drift in San Francisco. Tickets cost from $50 to $750. — Pam Smith LAWYER DROPS CASE AGAINST COUNTY SAN JOSE — The county of Santa Clara is out of a lawsuit filed by a man who spent three months in jail charged with raping his mother only to be exonerated by DNA evidence. An Vinh Nguyen filed a $1 million suit in December 2002 against county prosecutors and the city of San Jose’s police for false imprisonment, civil rights violations and emotional distress. Earlier this month, Nguyen’s attorney volunteered to dismiss the county from the suit, saying he feared he couldn’t sidestep prosecutorial immunity. “I didn’t want my client to incur any costs if an adverse judgment came out of the demurrer,” said Jeffrey Janoff with San Jose’s Bostwick & Janoff. “I tried to plead around the issues but it’s hard. They have too many immunities.” Santa Clara Deputy County Counsel Aryn Harris said the law is clear. “The county isn’t liable for the acts of the district attorney,” Harris said. Even so, Harris said the county prosecutor acted promptly when San Jose police handed over DNA evidence. “We didn’t receive the evidence until early August, and we tested it in an extremely quick fashion. It takes three weeks,” Harris said. But Janoff said the case against San Jose is still strong. “It’s really the city’s fault. They admitted in depositions they forgot about the evidence. They forgot to take it to the crime lab,” Janoff said. Nguyen was arrested in May after his mother turned up undressed and beaten in a trash container outside her apartment building. Police arrested Nguyen but didn’t have crime-scene DNA samples tested until August. San Jose Deputy City Attorney Michael Groves said he is filing a motion for summary judgment. He said the case centers around two issues. “Did police have probable cause to arrest Nguyen and did the city have the duty to make sure all the evidence was sent to the lab and tested right away?” Groves said. — Shannon Lafferty 17200 PROPONENTS TAKE FIGHT TO CORPORATE DOORSTEP A coalition formed to combat changes to California’s unfair competition law has vowed to take its fight directly to the corporate donors that are funding an initiative to modify the law. The coalition consists of more than 60 public interest groups organized around a political action committee called Election Watchdog. Last week, the group said it sent a letter to companies that have given money to Californians to Stop Shakedown Lawsuits. The Shakedown group is hoping to collect enough signatures to qualify a November ballot initiative that would change the unfair competition law, Business & Professions Code � 17200. The group has raised at least $1.3 million so far. “If we weaken our most important consumer protection law, someone is bound to get hurt. And it could be a member of your family,” according to the Election Watchdog letter, which was signed by the Sierra Club and California Public Interest Research Group, among others. So far, trial lawyers have been the most vocal opponents to the initiative. But Watchdog board member Jamie Court said the initiative is dangerous to all Californians because it would prevent public interest groups from filing environmental, labor, consumer and civil rights cases. “It’s seen as a lawyers versus the corporations issue. It’s really � public interest versus big corporations,” said Court, who is also president of the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights. Tort reformers and businesses say trial lawyers abuse 17200, and they want to change the law to improve the state’s economy. Besides writing the letters, Court said Election Watchdog planned to hold events up and down the state, including rallies and press conferences on corporate “doorsteps.” — Jeff Chorney

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