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Courthouse abuzz over D.A. rivals' new assignments

  • District Attorney Jill Ravitch, left, and Deputy District Attorney Victoria Shanahan. (PD File, 2014)

Sonoma County deputy prosecutor Victoria Shanahan spent much of the past year attacking what she called her boss’ lack of a marijuana policy in a bitter election campaign that she ultimately lost.

Now, District Attorney Jill Ravitch has reassigned Shanahan to her narcotics team, where her outspoken rival will be charged with enforcing the very standards she said did not exist.

Legal observers described it as a bit of irony that smacked of political retaliation. It was unclear what, if any, discretion Shanahan will have, or whether she will be invited to help shape the office’s marijuana guidelines.

“I think she’s being put in a position to fail,” said Omar Figueroa, a leading North Coast marijuana defense attorney and a Shanahan supporter. “She either must carry out this unworkable policy or dismiss cases. It’s a Catch-22.”

Neither Shanahan nor Ravitch returned several calls this week seeking comment.

The department’s spokeswoman, Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook, who said she was speaking for Ravitch, denied any political payback. She said assignment changes were routine, made with employee input and the needs of the department in mind.

She would not say whether Shanahan sought the new position.

“There is no retaliation,” Cook said. “We have not heard any complaints.”

Shanahan’s new assignment was part of a department-wide shakeup announced this week that takes effect Aug. 4.

It came almost two months after she lost the June 3 election, 64 percent to 36 percent. Shanahan vowed to remain on the job and Ravitch said her door would be open to “every member” of the office as she begins a second term.

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