District attorney candidates debate on Cal Poly Humboldt Campus


by Liam Gwynn

Humboldt County district attorney candidates Stacey Eads, Micheal Acosta, and Adrian Kamada debated a variety of pressing issues on Monday in Cal Poly Humboldt’s Native American Forum.

Students from the sociology department moderated the debate, choosing questions submitted by Cal Poly Humboldt students. Each candidate was given a two minute introduction and a two minute closing statement. After the introductions, the moderators would ask candidates a question and they would each get a two minute response followed by a round of one minute rebuttals.

The Three Candidates

Stacey Eads is currently the Assistant District Attorney and has 20 years of experience as a criminal prosecutor. She is the lead prosecutor for the Sexual Assault & Child Abuse Crimes prosecution team . She touts her many years of experience, connection to the current District Attorney Maggie Fleming, and love for Humboldt as leading factors in why people should vote for her.

Micheal Acosta has been a practicing defense attorney for twenty years. Acosta moved to Eureka after being recruited by the California Indian Legal Services as a staff attorney. He’s a controversial figure and is running on the idea that he would implement major changes to face problems like policing for profit, racial inequality, and gender discrepancies in sentencing. Acosta isn’t just controversial because of his ideas, he’s also currently facing a felony drug possession charge in the Humboldt Superior Court.

Adrian Kamada graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt with a BA in Political science and a minor in Environmental Science and Ethics. Kamada has eight years of experience. He served as Deputy District Attorney from 2014 to 2020, when he transitioned to a position as a public defender. Kamada is running on a promise to lower the crime rate, which he says has risen by 30% in the last five years. He wants to do this by implementing new methods of criminal correction for first-time offenders that focus on keeping people out of the criminal justice system with alternative help like mental and drug abuse treatment.

Standout Questions

Could you please explain what racial justice means to you and could you provide concrete examples of instances where you’ve helped promote racial justice in Humboldt county?

Acosta was called to respond first and was prepared with direct instances citing cases he worked on with the California Indian Legal Services. He cited a case where he was able to reduce a black man’s sentencing that was disproportionate to the sentencing that white people had received for the same crime.

“Where you really see it in sentencing is where dispositions are made, and people of color get harsher sentences and get treated differently by the probation department,” said Acosta.

Eads responded to the question by denying that race played a role in prosecutions but providing instances of how she has helped minorities by prosecuting for children who had experienced child abuse but were not believed because their community didn’t think that someone in their race could commit that type of abuse.

“I think that race, outside of a hate crime type of analysis, really doesn’t have a role in terms of how we prosecute an individual,” said Eads.

Kamada responded by acknowledging the fact that minorities are incarcerated at a higher percentage and saying that the problem needs to be fixed.

“Religion, race, ethnicity, those things don’t have anything to do with justice, but we can’t ignore the fact that there has been injustice for a long time towards people of color,” said Kamada.

If you are elected DA, will you prosecute the Lawson case?

Eads answered first saying that she wants to prosecute the case but that they need to have enough evidence before taking it to the preliminary hearing again, because if the judge doesn’t think there’s enough evidence then it will be almost impossible to prosecute in the future.

“We can only bring it before the judge one more time, and if we don’t have enough evidence to do that we will not be able to find Justice for Josiah,” said Eads.

Kamada gave a similar response saying that he won’t promise anything he can’t guarantee while reassuring everyone that it would be a priority and claiming that he has the support of Charmaine Lawson in his election.

“I will do everything possible, including coming up with new investigation techniques if necessary, but I can’t make a commitment that I can prosecute that case unless I’ve seen the entire case file,” said Kamada.

Acosta’s response was bold, saying he would prosecute the murder case and bring charges not just to the murderer but also to accomplices in an attempt to get information from a plea deal.

“There is significant new evidence this time to bring charges back and whether you do that through the complaint process or the grand jury indictment process is open to question, but absolutely yes, probably against more than one person,” said Acosta.

Registered Humboldt County voters will be able to vote for the Humboldt County district attorney position during the Statewide Direct Primary Election on June 7.

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