Dad’s in Prison, Mom Was on Parole. Their Son Is Now Running for D.A.

  • May 24, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — Standing in front of a group of potential donors in a well-appointed home, Chesa Boudin began a stump speech that would perhaps only fly in what was once the epicenter of the counterculture.

“I was in diapers when my parents left me with the babysitter to participate in an armored car robbery,” he said. “They never came home.”

Mr. Boudin, 38, is campaigning for an unlikely role for someone whose parents, operatives in the 1960s radical left-wing group the Weather Underground, went to prison for their roles as getaway drivers in a botched stickup that left three men — including two police officers — dead.

He wants to be the district attorney.


DA candidate wants to pursue wrongful convictions

Two thousand, four hundred thirty-three prisoners. A total of 21,290 years lost.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, that’s how many people nationwide have been sentenced for a crime they didn’t commit, then later found innocent. Last year alone, there 151 exonerations nationwide and six in California.

Chesa Boudin, a candidate for SF district attorney, says “One exoneration is too many.” He is offering a plan to change those numbers.


Open Forum: I served 6 years for a crime I did not commit

My name is Jamal Trulove, and I was wrongfully convicted of a murder that I did not commit because of police and prosecutorial misconduct. I am writing to tell my story because it is important that people understand the devastation of what happened to me and how the San Francisco district attorney’s office needs to adopt reforms to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

The case against me, based on a 2007 shooting in the Sunnydale public housing project, turned on the testimony of a single purported eyewitness. In fact, she didn’t see me do anything. But the jury never knew the truth: that on the night of the murder, the police showed her a single photograph of me, asked her to name me as the shooter, and she did not. The police buried that evidence and the fact that they pressured the woman until she told them, with some uncertainty, what they wanted to hear.


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DA candidate Chesa Boudin proposes dedicated unit to investigate wrongful convictions


For more than six years, Jamal Trulove was locked up for a killing that he says he did not commit.

The former reality TV show contestant was convicted of murder in 2010 for the slaying of his friend at the Sunnydale housing projects. The case hinged on a witness who, his lawyers later showed, falsely identified him as the shooter.

But Trulove was not able to prove his innocence until 2015 when, after successfully appealing his conviction and facing a second round of charges in connection with the same killing, a jury acquitted him of murder.

Trulove has since settled a lawsuit with San Francisco for $13.1 million after another jury found that police had framed him.

On Tuesday, district attorney candidate Chesa Boudin used the case as an example of the wrongs that could be prevented if prosecutors had a unit focused solely on investigating “credible claims of innocence.”

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My parents were incarcerated when I was a baby. Now I’m a lawyer working to fix the system

My freshman year at Yale I got a letter from my biological father with unwelcome news. He had a new neighbor, my childhood friend Lorenzo.

They were on the same cell block in maximum-security prison. Lorenzo’s imprisonment felt like fate. We came from different worlds: He was poor, black and an immigrant, while I was upper middle class, white and U.S.-born. As a black man, he had a 1 in 3 chance of serving time at some point in his life. What we had in common, however, was a significant risk factor for incarceration: Lorenzo and I became friends over many years of visiting our mothers behind bars. For him the odds played out.

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Multiple candidates get early start in race to replace San Francisco DA


By Paula Lehman-Ewing

The five candidates in this year's San Francisco district attorney election agree on a couple things: The moment is unique and the system is broken.

Their opinions on why the moment is unique and how to fix the criminal justice system in their city is where their unity begins to fracture.


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Candidates jump into SF district attorney race early to get a head start

When San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced in October — more than a year before the election — that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2019, he started an early rush for the job.

So far, five candidates are in, and Gascón’s decision removed one big obstacle from the race. San Francisco’s Nov. 5 election will be the first time in more than a century without a sitting district attorney in the race — not since William Langdon bowed out in 1909 has the city had an open field in the contest for top prosecutor.


From radical roots, Chesa Boudin seeks to become San Francisco's top prosecutor

Chesa Boudin was a model of understatement as he sat across the table inside a high-end Spanish bistro. Dark suit, white shirt, nondescript royal blue tie.

A recent email announcing his candidacy for San Francisco district attorney was similarly understated, referring to the “unique background” he brings to the contest to become the city’s chief prosecutor.

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A progressive candidate files for DA, opening up the 2019 race

Chesa Boudin, a deputy public defender whose life has been shaped by the criminal justice system, offers a new perspective in a campaign dominated by tough-on-crime candidates.


Chesa Boudin, son of imprisoned radicals, looks to become SF district attorney



Chesa Boudin’s world has never been free from the American criminal justice system.

When he was just over a year old, his parents — left-wing radicals in the Weather Underground — took part in a Brinks armored car robbery outside New York City that ended in the murder of two police officers and a security guard.

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