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Perhaps the most important aspect of the Jack Quatman controversy [" Quatman: Revenge not at heart of bias claims," April 19] seems to have escaped notice; at least, it has received little public comment. As I understand the state of things, mostly from reading this publication, a number of Alameda County prosecutors have testified under oath that Mr. Quatman was a nasty, vicious and unethical prosecutor who went so far as to teach his colleagues how to intimidate witnesses by threatening to plant narcotics on them. One after another, they swore that all these things happened while Mr. Quatman was working as a prosecutor. One after another, they described the acts of a foul and unethical man who did not operate within either the law or the ethical rules that govern prosecutors. Their testimony was persuasive: A judge has ruled that the tales against Mr. Quatman are worthy of belief and that he is not. These witnesses are prosecutors themselves, each sworn to uphold the law and each bound by the special ethical responsibilities of those whose work allows the state to imprison or even kill our fellow citizens. Yet, out of this whole sorry lot, NOT ONE did anything about it when it might have done some good. Not one reported these acts to the State Bar, to a federal prosecutor, or to a judge (who might have wanted to know that his witnesses were being forced to testify to Mr. Quatman’s liking). They did nothing to stop this pattern of activity that they now claim was so odious. By tacit acceptance, if not active encouragement, they allowed these infamous actions to continue, apparently quite openly, for years. Obviously, they were satisfied to be working in such surroundings, and saw no reason to do anything about it. Now these same people act as if they are shocked and amazed at the ignominy of it all. They demonize Mr. Quatman and affect an air of ethical purity as they point a damning finger at him. What has changed? Only this: He is no longer a part of their office. The message is clear. In practice, these unethical actions were considered to be perfectly acceptable when Mr. Quatman was trying to get convictions. Now that he is no longer trying to get someone executed, the actions that were once acceptable are now decried with a great show of moral outrage. Why has there been no outcry or investigation against the people who knew this was happening at the heart of our criminal justice system, but did nothing to stop it? They cannot claim ignorance — they have sworn that they knew all about it as it was happening! They cannot claim that it was inconsequential — these claims, in a death penalty case, undermine the ethics, morals and believability of the state’s attorney! Anticipating the inevitable attack on me (often the price of stating an obvious truth), let me say that I regard the office of prosecutor as one of the highest and most worthy in our system. I know none of the principals in this matter, I have no interest in the Freeman case, and I count many present and former prosecutors among my friends. I trust that they, too, are appalled at the spectacle of our most trusted public servants accepting and condoning unethical behavior so long as it served their immediate adversarial needs. For shame. Kenneth M. Quigley San Francisco

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