Candidate profile: Daniel Chung jumped into DA’s race after he was fired by incumbent Jeff Rosen

Santa Clara County District Attorney candidate Daniel Chung. Post photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Candidate Daniel Chung said he wants to speed things up at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office. He said incumbent District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s charging practices lead to failed cases, and that Rosen plays favorites with his prosecutors.

“There is literally a jingle in the office that says, ‘If you’re not one of Rosen’s chosen, you’re going to be frozen,” the former prosecutor said in an interview with the Post yesterday.

Rosen fired Chung in May after Chung wrote two op-eds criticizing his boss. Chung is now suing Rosen for violating his First Amendment rights and running against him in the June 7 primary. Chung grew up in Milpitas as the children of Korean immigrants. Chung’s father died by suicide when he was 8 years old, leaving his mother and grandmother to raise him. He said his father’s absence drove him to work hard.

‘Disgusted’ by charging practices

Chung went to Harvard and then Columbia Law School, and he said he once worked five jobs at the same time. After college, Chung worked as a prosecutor in the Bronx on gun crimes.

Chung moved back to Santa Clara County to work for Rosen in 2018. He said he was immediately thrust into jury trials for violent felony cases — everything short of murder.

He said he was “disgusted” by Rosen’s charging practices, and he has some ideas on how to improve them.

Rosen has an “issuing unit” dedicated to getting police reports and filing as many charges as possible. Cases are then handed off to another prosecutor.

This structure disincentives good charges, Chung said. There’s a lack of accountability because one person doesn’t see the case from start to finish, and the issuing unit often gives confusing or sloppy notes, Chung said. “It’s a complete hot potato,” Chung said.

If Chung was in charge, he said he would assign prosecutors to neighborhoods, and they would work on all of the cases from that area.

Chung also said he wants cases to move through the courts quicker. He said he picked up cases from as far back as 2014. People who were lined up to testify had moved away, and video footage was taped over.

Witnesses disappear, victims get apathetic and evidence gets lost when cases age, Chung said.

“I abhor cases that linger,” he said. Chung said that even before he started, a former prosecutor told him that Rosen played favorites. After working there, he said he saw it firsthand. People were discouraged from speaking out. “That is the ethos that breaks charging decisions also,” Chung said.