Summer Stephan
SD County District Attorney
Our speaker was San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. Her office serves the second largest county in California. She began by saying she had just been notified that a case SD had relinquished to the LA District Attorney’s office (because the defendant was accused of one gun-related murder in San Diego County and two murders in Los Angeles County) had been ordered returned to SD for prosecution. She fought for that return after learning the new district attorney in LA was not going to pursue charges involving the use of a gun during the crimes committed in the two counties—a win for her team.
The pandemic, she said, has forced the legal and court systems to find new ways to work, with many court-related activities now being done virtually. Stephan said her office is working diligently in many arenas, including internet crimes against children, the explosion of opiod deaths and the increasing number of hate crimes. Mental health issues are another focus. Under Stephan's leadership, many new programs have been started. An urgent-care type mental health facility will open soon in Vista. A family justice center also is opening in North County.
Asked about Covid directives enforcement, she said there has to be a balance between the need to keep everyone healthy and the need for people to be able to put food on the table. “It’s difficult,” Stephan said. “We shouldn’t have to criminalize someone” who is forced to do the latter.