Monday, April 26, 2010

When Promise Dies In Sorrow

It always hits close to home when you hear the news that someone you consider to be a contemporary of yours has passed away. That certainly was the case when I learned Sunday morning that former Santa Barbara District Attorney Christie Stanley lost her long battle with lung cancer.

When she joined the DA's office in the early '80s she had the office that was next door to mine. Back in those days you could smoke in the office and Christie would always have a cigarette going. But she worked long hours, and if I remember correctly, she was commuting from Lompoc where she lived at the time.

It wasn't long before she transferred to North County. And eventually she would go on to be the Assistant District Attorney in charge of North County operations and later, would be elected the County's first woman District Attorney.

Of course the real shame is that she never really got the opportunity to put her mark on the office after becoming DA. A mere eight months into her first term she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

For three years she gave the disease a long valiant battle. As a woman who raised a family while attending law school and then went on to vanquish opposing counsel in the courtroom on a regular basis, Christie was probably not used to coming up short in a face-off with an opponent. But this was the one fight that she couldn't win.

As far as I can determine, the first media outlet to break the news of Stanley's passing was Noozhawk, which had the story up on its website around 10:30 am Sunday morning although the official press release from the County announcing her death did not come out until around 2 pm Sunday.

How were they able to get the scoop so quickly? Within an hour of Stanley's passing her husband Gary began contacting some of her former colleagues at the DA's office to tell them the sad news. As the word spread, Bill Macfadyen of Noozhawk was one of those who heard. After he confirmed the fact of Stanley's death with a contact in the DA's office, he posted the story. Throughout the day on Sunday he was able to update his initial report with reactions from people in county government including that of Joyce Dudley, one of the candidates seeking to be the next DA, County Supervisor Janet Wolf, Acting DA Ann Bramsen and Sheriff Bill Brown.

No reaction to Stanley's passing from the other candidate for the office, Josh Lynn, whom Stanley appointed acting DA towards the end of her term. Lynn didn't respond to e-mail requests from at least two media outlets for a statement. Someone get this man a Blackberry!

Updated, 8:45 am Monday. Shortly before 8 am received this statement from DA candidate Josh Lynn:
Simply put, Christie was the martriarch of our family here at the District Attorney's Office. She inspired us to be better prosecutors with her work and dedication to public safety and to be better people with her dignity during her heroic battle with cancer. I am proud to call her my friend; my prayers and those of us here in the office go out to her husband Gary and her family as we mourn her passing.

As I mentioned before, the statement on Stanley's passing from the other candidate to become the next DA, Joyce Dudley, appeared in the Noozhawk article.

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