Walter Clark | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About Walter Clark

Former Deputy District Attorney
Walter Clark

Deputy District Attorney

" Judges are upset with the overwhelming number of drug cases on their dockets."

Walter Clark
When Walter Clark started as deputy district attorney of Riverside County (CA) in the mid 1970s, there was a lot of talk about one marijuana seed deserving a felony. He was happy to see that this was not adopted. He never had an epiphany about the "War on Drugs": he always felt that drug prohibition was a wasted effort. And while he wasn't "out" about legalization, he would often argue with his co-workers that going after small-time marijuana possession was a waste of the DA's time and a misdirection of law-enforcement resources. After a few years, he left the DA's office largely because he felt that it was misguided to go after felony convictions for such minor infractions. He simply did not want to be a part of that effort.

Part of Walter's frustration with the DA's office is that many within it are more interested in building their budgets than actually helping their communities. "They say, 'We don't have enough money or staff to prosecute all of the druggies to protect your children,' then apply the laws simply to twist the logic of their funding: 'See, we have been successful in prosecuting more drug cases to make your children safe. Give us more money and we will do an even better job.' The result has been larger staffs and more minor convictions. Are we any safer?"

As a trial lawyer who has seen over 100 jury trials to completion, he knows fully well that the judicial system simply could not function if all of the laws on the books were applied. He points out, "If all of the people charged with drug offenses were to elect for jury trials, the California court system would shut down overnight. Civil cases - which are seen as a lesser priority as it is - are already pushed back because of the drug cases the California court system hears."

Among many other appointments, Walter has served as planning commissioner for the city of Indian Wells, is admitted to practice before the Supreme Courts of both California and the United States, and is himself a judge pro tempore. Walter is board certified in civil trials by both the National Board of Trial Advocacy and the American Board of Trial Advocates, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of California and a member of the Public Justice Foundation as well as past president of the Desert Bar Association. He has been the head of Walter Clark Legal Group since 1996 and is happy to now be associated with LEAP.

Palm Desert, California, USA

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