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Tianna Arata's attorneys say DA's office should be disqualified from case

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Attorneys for local activist and protest leader Tianna Arata filed a motion to disqualify the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office from prosecuting the case against Arata, citing District Attorney Dan Dow's personal and political bias.

BARRED Tianna Arata's legal counsel filed a motion to ask the SLO County District Attorney's office to be disqualified from prosecuting Arata due to the district's attorney's alleged political bias. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • BARRED Tianna Arata's legal counsel filed a motion to ask the SLO County District Attorney's office to be disqualified from prosecuting Arata due to the district's attorney's alleged political bias.

The motion filed on Nov. 17 alleges Dow is publicly aligned with right-wing conservative political organizations and fundamental religious groups that seek to vilify the Black Lives Matter movement. His personal bias and political motivations, the document claims, have usurped his ability to exercise his prosecutorial discretion fairly, and this has pervaded his entire office.

From the onset, the document alleges, the motives behind the charging decisions raised serious concerns given a 20-year-old Black female was singled out for prosecution in a crowd of primarily white protesters under a theory that she was responsible for the actions of the entire group.

The attorneys compiled a series of events in which they believe Dow's actions were contrary to prosecuting Arata fairly and free from bias of his personal beliefs.

According to the document, on July 4, Dow spoke at a Sculpterra Winery event in Paso Robles where he announced that as the county's chief prosecutor, he would not enforce state mandates restricting large indoor faith-based gatherings amid resurging cases of COVID-19 across the state, the document claims.

Arata's attorneys argue that Dow made it clear he will not exercise his prosecutorial discretion in accordance with the law if it does not align with his personal views or those of his religious conservative voter base.

However when it comes to the Black Lives Matters movement, the defense argues that Dow allegedly turns a blind eye to the First Amendment and is charging Arata with 13 misdemeanors for her participation in a march that attracted a large number of supporters, impeded the flow of traffic, and created loud noise.

According to the document, the District Attorney's Office then began its efforts to justify the arrest and build a case against Arata fueled by Dow's political agenda. The filing alleges that Dow is prosecuting Arata to gain national attention and endear himself to right-wing political leaders so that he can advance his political career beyond SLO.

The defense requests that the case be referred to the Attorney General's Office to determine whether the prosecution can rightfully proceed. Δ

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