Tracy Kaplan, 11/9/11
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced Wednesday he is reaching outside the office to bring in a highly regarded practitioner with experience both as a prosecutor and defense attorney.
For the past eight years, Terry Bowman, 42, has worked for Rains Lucia Stern, one of the state’s leading police defense firms, where she made partner. For seven years — 1996 through 2002 — she was a top trial prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office under George Kennedy.
“Terry Bowman is both an outsider and an insider,” Rosen said in a news statement about filling the $210,000 position. “She understands the critical importance of the rights of the accused and the ethical responsibilities of the District Attorney’s Office in balancing those rights and the safety of the public.”
Bowman will become one of the five “assistant deputy district attorneys” who help run the office that employs 170 lawyers under Rosen and Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky.
The executive appointment — Rosen’s second since he took office in January — drew widespread praise from members of the legal community, who pointed to Bowman’s versatility, superb trial skills and warm personality. Retired Judge Thomas Hastings said that even before she passed the bar, Bowman showed great promise, particularly in researching the 1995 Polly Klaas murder case, which he handled.
“From the get-go,” said an enthusiastic Hastings, “I could see right away she’d be a rising star.”
But Bowman may have to work to win the trust of some community activists, who raised concerns Wednesday about her close association with police.
“We are used to hearing Terry Bowman’s name when she is coming to the defense of police officers who were facing potential criminal charges for having killed civilians, or were caught beating an unarmed student with a baton on YouTube,” said Raj Jayadev, director of Silicon Valley DeBug, a community organization for young adults. He is also a member of Coalition for Justice and Accountability, an alliance of civil rights groups that formed after the controversial police shooting of Daniel Pham, a knife-wielding mentally ill man.
“So to know that she will be in the top command of the office that the community looks to prosecute officers who have crossed the line is a real concern,” Jayadev said.
Bowman said she has “huge respect” for law enforcement, particularly in Santa Clara County. But she also said she has a “huge base” of knowledge about the dangers they face. She added that her thorough understanding of use of force policy will sharpen her analysis of officer-involved shootings and other police matters that come to the attention of the office.
“I have no doubt I can be objective,” Bowman said.
In her seven years as a prosecutor, Bowman successfully prosecuted an impressive 40 jury trials — an average of six a year — including for robbery, rape, child molestation and murder. In 2000, when she was 30, she became the youngest person to win an internal award for “Trial Lawyer of the Year.”