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SAN JOSE � Concerned that early mudslinging in the district attorney’s race may be giving lawyers a bad name, the Santa Clara County Bar Association plans to put a code of ethics in place to help prevent future campaign shenanigans. While the primary for next year’s election is still 10 months away, name-calling and finger-pointing have already started, and SCCBA President Julia Emede says she wants to put an end to the nastiness once and for all. “Calling a judge a ‘bozo’ is inappropriate,” said Emede, referring to a hit piece by Deputy DA James Sibley that landed on the Internet a day after Superior Court Judge Ron Del Pozzo announced his candidacy. Del Pozzo pulled out of the race earlier this month, saying that he missed the bench and that his 8-year-old daughter wasn’t “on board” with the campaign. The field now consists of Chief Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu, Assistant DA Marc Buller and Superior Court Judge Dolores Carr. Deputy DA James Shore remains on the fence, although he said last week he was “moving toward running” and is expected to make an announcement soon. The candidates all said they think having a code of ethics is a good idea. But they have little say in the matter. If they want to be considered for a bar endorsement, they must agree to follow the association’s election standards. “I expect people to be aggressive, that’s to be expected,” Emede said, “but aggressive and appropriate would be nice.” Emede, a family law attorney with San Jose’s Schlepphorst & Emede, said she has received numerous calls from local attorneys appalled at the way some in the DA’s office have been behaving. The campaign mudslinging started in late June when Deputy DA Christopher Arriola, a Buller supporter who is also president-elect of the bar association, sent a “personal” e-mail to his “friends and family” accusing Sinunu of not doing enough to promote diversity in the office. Sinunu quickly disputed the “e-attack,” calling it “negative and untrue.” Things turned uglier in July when Sibley launched a Web site criticizing Del Pozzo’s work ethic and calling the judge “mediocre” and lazy.” Less than a month later, Del Pozzo pulled out of the race. “In general, it’s really unfortunate that lawyers are adding to the bad perception,” Emede said. “Basically, we want to set some standards that everyone will be held accountable.” Would the standards apply to the office’s deputies as well? Emede quickly laughed, acknowledging that most of the bad behavior wasn’t coming from the candidates themselves. But, she added, she simply doesn’t know how the bar association will deal with complaints about deputies getting out of hand. She said that is an issue the bar’s code of ethics task force will have to consider. Led by Stanford University’s general counsel, Debra Zumwalt, the task force will be responsible for coming up with a list of standards for the DA campaign. The list will be presented to the bar’s board of trustees in the coming weeks for approval. In addition to Zumwalt and Emede, the task force will also include San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle, members of the superior court, members of the federal bench and private attorneys. Task force members have agreed not to come out in public support of any DA candidate. “It’s a very illustrious group,” said Zumwalt, who has helped the bar come up with rules of conduct for the county’s judicial races. She anticipates that the DA code of ethics will be similar to the 12 standards of conduct used in the past by judicial candidates. These include: no false advertising, no defamatory attacks against the character of any opponent, and no invasion of personal privacy. “This type of structure is great for an open � and fair debate,” Arriola said. “Everybody can openly discuss important topics, including diversity, public safety and office management, which are going to be so important to the DA race.” Once the bar adopts the DA race’s code of ethics, Emede will pull together an election commission that will help resolve any disputes that arise among the candidates.

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