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Paula Kuty, the longtime second-in-command to Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, will retire in May. Kuty, 59, has worked for the DA’s office for nearly three decades. She has handled every kind of felony case and, according to Kennedy, has helped make the office more efficient. “I’ve grown to depend on her,” Kennedy said. Kuty will be replaced by Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu, who is currently third-in-command. Marc Buller will take Sinunu’s spot as senior assistant, and there will be a competitive application process to select a new assistant. The promotion could give Sinunu a significant advantage over other candidates should she run for DA in 2006. Although she could not be reached for comment, earlier this month the San Jose Mercury News reported that Sinunu had planned to enter the race. Kennedy has not said whether he’ll seek re-election in 2006 — he said Wednesday he would decide within a month — but at least two judges and a handful of DAs, including Sinunu and Buller, have indicated they would throw their hats in the ring should he step aside. Kuty attended Hastings College of the Law and passed the bar in 1976. She briefly worked as a law clerk for the Santa Clara County Superior Court before becoming a prosecutor. Originally, she expected to stay with the DA’s office for about five years and planned to go into civil practice. “It really was [fun] finding out all the different aspects of being a prosecutor,” Kuty said. Among her cases was the prosecution of William Michael Dennis, which she said was significant because she secured the death penalty for a multiple murder that included a fetus. She also headed the sexual assault unit. Kennedy, who first took office in 1990, said he’ll miss Kuty, who’s been his No. 2 since 1994. Among other things, he said, she has been instrumental in upgrading the office’s case management and reporting systems. “It’s going to be much harder for me to run the office,” he said. Kuty, who is married and has adult children, is exchanging her 12-hour workdays for a more leisurely pace that will include volunteering as a docent at a local state park. She also plans to do some traveling. “I’m not planning on being idle,” she said.

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