Judicial Prouty

posted 4/7/10

Judicial Candidate Doug Prouty answers the readers' questions:

1. Historically, the 5thAmendment to the United States Constitution initially established that the government is prohibited from taking private property for a public use without just compensation to the owner. That constitutional principle is called eminent domain. That eminent domain concept and the procedure governing its operation in California is set forth in the Code of Civil Procedure beginning at §1230. It is a judge’s duty to fairly and impartially follow that procedure as set forth in those statutes and any appellate decisions interpreting those statutes. A judge should not make new law or interpret a statute based upon his or her personal opinion.

2. I have been an attorney in California for over 27 years. For the last 10 years, my law office has been located in Quincy. I have been a contract public defender for Plumas County during that time. I am appointed to represent indigent defendants in all types of felony, misdemeanor and juvenile cases, including murder and serious and violent offenses. I am in court virtually every day handling all types of hearings, motions and trials in those cases.

I also have a busy civil litigation practice and serve as litigation counsel for local businesses, contractors and banks. A portion of my civil practice is also devoted to family law cases and the hearings and trials which may be heard when the parties cannot agree on a settlement of the marital issues. Lastly, in Plumas County I am appointed by the local judges to represent children or parents in cases filed by the Department of Social Services when there is a claim that the children have either been subject to abuse or have not been properly cared for by the parents.

Before moving to Quincy, I had an office in Truckee for 14 years. During that time, approximately 35% of my practice were family law cases, including numerous clients in Sierra County. I handled every aspect of those cases, including hearings regarding child and spousal support, custody and visitation, community and separate property division, and enforcement of court orders. When we weren’t able to settle all the issues in a divorce case, I usually handled 5-6 trials each year, including a number of trials before Judge Littrell and Commissioner Dowling in Downieville. During this time, I also became a trained private mediator in family law cases and tried to help divorcing couples resolve their issues without having to spend money for attorneys to handle contested hearings and trials.

While my office was in Truckee, I also had a civil caseload which involved handling litigation in real property, business, unlawful detainer, and probate. When the cases were not able to otherwise settle, I had civil trials throughout California, including Downieville. During that time, I also represented private criminal clients, as well as being appointed by the judges in Sierra, Nevada, Placer, and Plumas counties as a conflict public defender in felony, misdemeanor and juvenile criminal cases.

As far as positions I have held in the legal arena, since 2005 I have served as a temporary judge for small claims and traffic cases in the Plumas County courts in Portola, Quincy, Greenville and Chester. When my office was in Truckee, I was asked to serve as judge pro tem for small claims cases in Truckee and Tahoe City. Finally, I was appointed by the Nevada County court to decide cases as an arbitrator.

3. Regarding the issue of setting bail in a criminal case, initially there are certain cases where a defendant is not entitled to bail under the California Constitution, such as a capital case, certain serious or violent felonies or specific sex offenses. Otherwise, in setting bail, a judge must look at the local bail schedule as well as factors including the seriousness of the offense, the defendant’s previous criminal record, if any, and the probability that the defendant will make future court appearances.

4. On the issue of gun ownership, as most people know, historically the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution first set forth the right of an individual to own and possess firearms. A judge is required to follow California law which denies convicted felons the right to own or possess firearms. There are other California statutes which prohibit defendants convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes involving violence from owning or possessing a firearm for up to 10 years from the date of the offense.

5. Regarding my family background, my father was an Army officer and my mother was an elementary school teacher. I would say we were considered middle class. I am divorced and have 3 children, with my youngest in his sophomore year at Cal. State University at Monterey Bay and my two older children currently live and work in the Truckee/Reno area.

As an adult, I have lived in this rural area from Truckee to Plumas County for the last 23 years. I have lived in northern Sierra Valley for the last 5 years. There is no question that there is a great difference between a rural and urban/suburban culture. In my legal experience, where I have seen the greatest contrast is in how juvenile criminal cases can be handled in rural areas. In smaller counties, there is a very real opportunity to tailor and supervise the probation for juveniles to each individual case so that it will be more of a productive and helpful experience for a juvenile in trouble with law.

6. For the last 5 years I have often worked with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Department of Social Services cases. Under California law, CASA can be appointed by the Court in those cases in order to represent and advocate for the best interests of the involved children. They can furnish input to a judge in those types of cases along with the child’s counselor/therapist, teacher, other involved adults and child’s attorney in deciding what is in his or her best interests as far as placement and/or reunification with the parents.

7. Over the last 23 years, I have gotten to know and represented numerous clients in Sierra County through civil, family law and criminal cases and also have gotten to know and work with court and county personnel. Living in Sierra Valley for the last 5 years has also kept me in touch and contact with Sierra County residents.

8. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion which protects the right to free exercise of religion and prohibits Congress from establishing a religion, freedom of assembly and to petition.

The Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to possess firearms.

In brief, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guards against searches, arrests and seizure of property without issuance of a warrant or unless there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

The Fifth Amendment of the Federal Constitution provides that an accused person may not be compelled to testify against him or herself, prohibits double jeopardy for the same crime, forbids punishment without due process of law and also prohibits the government from taking private property for public use without just compensation.


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