Retired judge selected to serve as county's interim DA

Diana Becton to complete disgraced ex-DA's unexpired term

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to appoint recently retired Superior Court Judge Diana Becton to serve as interim district attorney, making her the first woman and first African-American to hold the position in the county.

"I am honored to have been chosen by the Board of Supervisors to serve the people of Contra Costa County as District Attorney," Becton said. "With over two decades of experience in the administration of justice and the practice of criminal law, I am excited by this new opportunity to reform our justice system and restore integrity to the DA's office."

Becton, one of five finalists being considered for the position, was chosen after the Board of Supervisors publicly interviewed the applicants Tuesday in Martinez. She will serve until early 2019, the expiration date of the elected term of former district attorney Mark Peterson, who resigned in June amid a campaign spending scandal and felony conviction.

"Diana Becton brings a wealth of experience as a retired Contra Costa Superior Court judge," Supervisor Candace Andersen, whose district includes most of the San Ramon Valley, said after the meeting Tuesday. "She cares deeply about improving our county's justice system. I look forward to working with her as she brings a new perspective to our District Attorney's Office."

Becton, an El Sobrante resident, was appointed to the bench in 1995 and since then has presided over a variety of misdemeanor, felony, civil, mental health and juvenile cases. She was elected presiding judge of the Contra Costa Superior Court in 2011, responsible for leading the court and managing its staff and resources, including its $56 million budget.

"This job is a tremendous responsibility, and I am committed to restoring public trust in the DA's office," Becton said. "The people of Contra Costa County need to be confident in their judicial system, and I will work tirelessly with law enforcement, deputy district attorneys, and public defenders to rebuild that trust."

She received initial support from three supervisors following public interviews Tuesday, with Andersen and Supervisor Karen Mitchoff instead picking senior deputy DA Paul Graves as their top choice. The board then voted a second time, and Becton was unanimously approved as interim DA.

The position as the county's top prosecutor became vacant mid-June after Peterson resigned in light of a perjury conviction stemming from a campaign spending scandal.

Peterson, who took office in 2010 and won re-election in 2014, pleaded no contest to one felony count as part of a plea deal with state prosecutors after spending more than $65,000 in campaign money on personal expenses.

Rather than call a special election to fill the position, the Board of Supervisors opted to solicit applications for an interim DA to serve out the remainder of Peterson's unexpired term. The next regular election for the DA position is scheduled for next June, with a potential runoff election in November 2018. The elected winner's new term will start Jan. 7, 2019.

Chief assistant DA Doug MacMaster has been serving as interim DA since Peterson's departure, but once Becton is sworn in, he will resume his prior position. MacMaster did not apply for the job.

The application and open recruitment process included a county-hosted public forum, several opportunities to offer public and online comments and public interviews of each finalist during a Board of Supervisors open meeting.

Becton and Graves were joined as finalists by Superior Court Judge Danielle Douglas, Contra Costa assistant DA Thomas Kensok and Santa Clara County deputy DA Patrick Vanier, who lives in San Ramon. Twelve people originally applied before the board narrowed the candidate pool down to the five finalists.

Originally from the Bay Area, Becton attended Oakland public schools and received her B.A. in economics from San Francisco State University and her J.D. from Golden Gate University Law School.

In 2012, Becton was the recipient of the Rose Bird Memorial Award for judicial excellence from California Women Lawyers and later served as president of the National Association of Women Judges.


14 people like this
Posted by Dan Ville
a resident of Danville
on Sep 13, 2017 at 9:36 am

She never worked as a prosecutor, never even practiced criminal law; she was caught actually plagiarizing major parts of her application for this job and had to admit plagiarizing the application; the union of district attorneys gave her vote of no confidence and endorsed a long time veteran prosecutor for the job; the County Sheriff actually showed up at the hearing and said appointing her would be an insult to law enforcement; As a Judge she was so biased and impartial that she was routinely 170.6 challenged for being prejudiced and biased to the point she could not be a fair Judge; Her entire "theme" for wanting to be DA is what she describes as "social justice" and wanting to drop felony charges the police recommend down to misdemeanors so criminals get out of jail quicker; She used her "community activism" connections to pack the chambers at the hearing with "anti-police" demonstrators demanding she be appointed as she is African-American and a woman.

Double lock your doors, Contra Costa County residents, as the Joker is now running Gotham City, and the crime spikes are coming your way.

2 people like this
Posted by Dan Davis
a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2017 at 7:40 am

Comments are obviously biased but beyond that does anyone know how accurate they are?

Plagiarizing her application has already been reported, and should be enough to disqualify her, but I'm wondering about the other charges.

Supervisors never spoke out regarding Peterson when he committed a felony and now they let activists intimidate them into what appears to be a poor appointment. Very disappointing.

12 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2017 at 10:27 am

Rick is a registered user.

Judge Becton’s appointment is a small, but not insignificant, example of manifestly poor governance consistent with the 25-year tradition of CA government leaders – at every level of government – easily qualifying the State as one of the 3 or 4 worst run states in the Union. The CoCoCo Comm’s had 12 candidates, 9 of whom had prosecutorial experience, 4 of whom here in CoCoCo. Judge Becton’s qualifications and character (to wit: admitted DA application plagiarism; per Dan Ville, above, 170.6 violations, which, in proximate English: from CA Code Of Civil Procedure section (a) (1), (in relevant part), “… A judge, … shall not try a civil or criminal action or special proceeding of any kind …that the judge …is prejudiced against a party or attorney or the interest of a party or attorney appearing in the action or proceeding.”) appear, even to casual observer, to be limited to non-existent. Consistent with the SJW mentality and intellectual poverty of CA’s dominant political class, Judge Becton is now Acting CoCoCo DA! Please remember: Being Politically Correct means always having to say you're sorry. Welcome to CoCoCo and CA politics.

1 person likes this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Sep 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm

I don't know much about Judge Becton, but just want to clarify the bit about CCP 170.6: any party has a right to a new judge (if timely asserted). There is no finding that a judge is biased or unfit to serve. Plenty of times parties will "paper" a judge under this section because they think they could get a more favorable draw.

7 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Sep 15, 2017 at 4:16 pm

The article talked about Judge Beaton bringing a new "perspective" to the DA's office. The only perspective I really care about for the DA's office is that they prosecute cases in accordance with the law, and with honesty.

From some of the other posts, I have concerns about lack of prosecutorial experience, as well as what MAY be indications of Becton being soft on crime. Lord protect us from activist DA's..... At least the remainder of the term is only a year plus a few months away.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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