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Six months into her term, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris is touting her success. In a report put out Tuesday, Harris pointed out that she’s cut the backlog of homicide cases by more than a third and has cracked down on gun crimes. Harris’ seven-page report touches on a broad spectrum of her campaign themes. The homicide backlog was already front and center by Harris’ January inauguration. And a slew of murders this year — 55 as of Tuesday, according to the DA’s office — has ensured homicides remain a high-profile priority. Of 74 homicide cases Harris inherited, the district attorney’s office has disposed of 27, or 36 percent, the report says. The office resolved 14 of those cases with plea bargains, and 13 have gone to trial. Two trials are still in progress and two resulted in hung juries — one of which will be retried. Nine others ended in convictions: three for first-degree murder, four for second-degree murder and two for voluntary manslaughter. For the homicide team, it may be a case of two steps forward, one step back. Ten new murder cases have been charged since Harris took over, said DA spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh. The report doesn’t mention that one of Harris’ ideas to address the homicide backlog hit a dead end. At her inauguration speech Jan. 8, the new DA announced she was asking the court to dedicate a courtroom to murder trials. But San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Morgan, who supervises the criminal calendar, stuck with the court’s policy of giving homicide cases priority as they arise. That way multiple homicide trials can take place in different courtrooms if necessary, Morgan said. Harris says she’s getting tougher on gun crimes. She’s designated attorneys from several units to specialize in gun-related prosecutions, her report notes, and she hopes to spin off a separate gun crimes unit by the end of the year. And, while lawyers worked under the flexibility of the Penal Code before, the office has a new uniform policy for gun crimes, Mesloh said. For instance, every assault weapon possession is now charged as a felony, she said. In the report, Harris also takes credit for higher bails for gun crimes. “Harris successfully requested the courts to work with her to increase the bail schedule for gun offenses,” it says. “As a result, the newly adopted bail schedule is the toughest of any Bay Area jurisdiction on gun offenses.” But Morgan, the supervising criminal court judge, says the DA had nothing to do with the changes, noting that the bail schedule is reviewed annually across the board. “We very scrupulously did not consider the advocacy of doing one thing or the other, from either the district attorney or the defense bar,” Morgan said. Still, Morgan noted that more cases seem to be going to trial, rather than languishing, since Harris came into office. “My general experience is that morale seems much higher in the district attorney’s office,” the judge added. “People seem to be working much harder.” Harris also notes that she’s launched a new training program in evidence collection with the police department. She pledged during her campaign to repair the working relationship between police and prosecutors, and she often cites the training program as progress. Noticeably absent from the report, though, are the loud protests and criticisms many police officers made against Harris this spring when she declined to pursue the death penalty against an accused cop killer.

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