Editor: I write regarding the Democratic primary for commonwealth’s attorney in Arlington/Falls Church in which Parisa Tafti is challenging incumbent Theo Stamos.
Tafti has led a career as a defense attorney and has commendably served the Innocence Project – an important adjunct of our system of justice, and a cause I strongly support. Tafti, however, has never prosecuted a single case, and Ms. Stamos has an impressive record of more than 30 years as a prosecutor. During that extensive period not a single conviction of hers has been subsequently overturned – a remarkable record, indeed.
Regrettably, Tafti’s campaign has been characterized by a series of ad-hominem attacks. One of the more odious is the claim that Stamos is out to get the local black population by disproportionately prosecuting them – a fact which has gone unnoted by that very same population over these many years.
In fact, in the Democratic primary of 2011, Glebe Precinct in Arlington – with its predominantly African-American population – awarded Stamos more then 81 percentt of the vote, exactly corresponding to the countywide average she received.
At a recent debate, Tafti also castigated Stamos for her mishandling of a specific case. When Stamos sought clarification by asking the nature of the crime, the name of the defendant, and/or the year of the case, Tafti was incapable of responding with a scintilla of data. This is not what makes for an effective prosecutor.
Tafti also advocates selective prosecution of those who violate only the laws with which she believes to be just. Such latitude would constitute a violation of her oath of office in which she would swear to uphold and enforce the Code of Virginia – all of the Code, not just those parts with which she agreed.
Stamos, by contrast, apparently believes that laws are enacted and amended by the legislature, and that our delegates and senators are responsive to complaints of injustice and the necessity of reform.
Not content with impugning the integrity of Stamos, Tafti blasted the Arlington Police Department for brutality in a case in which a police officer fired three shots, killing a suspect. Stamos was charged by Tafti for failing to prosecute the officer – an alleged conspiracy with the police to cover up a grave injustice.
Tafti, however, failed to note that the officer in question discharged his revolver only after being struck across his face with an iron bar – a wound requiring 60 stitches.
Finally, let me state the obvious: Arlington and Fall Church are served by among the finest and fairest police, judiciary and prosecutors in our nation. Our homes, our possessions and ourselves are safe and secure.
Let’s keep it that way by voting for Theo Stamos on June 11 in the Democratic primary.
Frank O’Leary, Arlington
O’Leary is the former treasurer of Arlington.