Mono County has a new district attorney, after former Mono County Assistant District Attorney Tim Kendall was sworn into office Tuesday in Bridgeport by Mono County Superior Court Judge Stan Eller.
Kendall replaces former Mono County District Attorney George Booth, who retired at the end of last month despite a year and a half left of his four-year term. Kendall was appointed by the county supervisors to fill the remainder of Booth’s term, which ends in January 2014. Kendall will be up for election for the next term.
MT: What would you say is your philosophy of justice? In other words, what words, beliefs, guide you in administering justice?
TK: Every day is about doing the right thing for the right reasons, all the time. The office of the District Attorney promotes and protects the public peace and safety of Mono County. In regards to this, the District Attorney is charged with grave responsibilities, which demand integrity, zeal, and a conscientious effort in the administration of justice. It is important that all persons involved in the criminal justice system are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. But the priority of any DA, including myself, is to vindicate the rights of crime victims, witnesses and persons accused of crimes. We do that by ensuring that the guilty are punished appropriately and if the accused is innocent that they be vindicated and freed.
MT: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Mono County in terms of crime in the next five to ten years?
TK: First and foremost, regardless where you live in the county, Mono County is a great place to live. The challenges facing our county, in terms of crime, are really no different than what we have experienced in the past. In general, we live in a relatively low crime area and I do not see that changing substantially anytime soon. We do, however, have our share of violence, drugs, alcohol-related crimes, and theft. Those numbers should remain relatively constant in the next few years.
MT: Do you believe the budget challenges facing California will impact your office and if so, how?
TK: How California’s budget problems will affect my office directly is currently unknown. At this point, we will have to wait and see what decisions are made at the state level as well as those made by our Mono County Board of Supervisors. Our board has done a great job with the help of management and employees to ensure that the county remains in a financially sound position. This collaborative effort will continue as we watch what the economic state of California does in the remaining 2012 year and 2013 year.
The new sentencing law (called “realignment”) is the most dramatic change ever in the criminal justice system and it determines how felons will be punished in California. The primary effect of this law is that many serious criminals who should be incarcerated in state prison will now be serving their “prison” sentences in our local jail in Bridgeport. This raises the obvious issue of jail capacity and whether or not these felons will be properly and justly punished for their behavior. Along with that is the cost that the county will incur to house these felons. I will be in constant communication with the sheriff and Mono County probation and the court to insure that public safety is the top priority under this new sentencing scheme.
MT: You are legally appointed, not elected. Does that change anything about how you will fill your office?
TK: On June 5, I was appointed to finish out the existing term of retired DA, George Booth. I will be required to run for office in the June 2013 election to fill the new term, which will begin January 2014. Regardless whether one is appointed or elected, the responsibility of the office remains the same and my principles and priorities will remain the same. I have served as the public’s assistant prosecutor for the past 13 years here in Mono County and now I have the honor of serving as the public’s chief prosecutor. I recognize that this is a tremendous honor as well as a tremendous responsibility. I am extremely proud of what I do and I am so thankful for the dedicated attorneys, investigators, victim advocates and support staff in the DA’s office who diligently and compassionately serve our citizens every single day. That will not change.
Kendall graduated in 1985 from Baylor University and worked several years before going back and getting his law degree in 1993.
He was hired by Stan Eller, former district attorney of Mono County, in 1994 and has been the county’s assistant district attorney for 13 years, with four years prior to that as one of the county’s deputy district attorneys.
He has been married for 18 years to Shannon Kendall and has one daughter. He has lived in June Lake, Bridgeport, and Mammoth Lakes.