By KAREN VELIE
Judge Mike Cummins, a former prosecutor and superior court judge, is challenging San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow in the June primary election for the top prosecutor seat.
Cummins, 62, served as a deputy district attorney in Stanislaus County for 4 ½ years before he was appointed to the bench in 1994 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. After more than 10 years, Cummins retired from the bench and returned to San Luis Obispo County to spend more time with his aging parents.
If elected, Cummins said he will mount an investigation into the death of Andrew Holland at the jail, an investigation Cummins said Dow should have opened.
Following Holland’s death, the FBI opened an investigation into the 11 deaths at the SLO County Jail since 2012. Officials from the district attorneys office said they were not investigating the deaths because of the ongoing FBI investigation.
Cummins said the district attorney’s office should have launched a concurrent investigation into possible state law violations. The FBI investigation is focused on alleged civil rights abuses.
In addition, Cummins said he will be a hands on district attorney.
“My perception is that Dan Dow is out of the office a lot and he is out of town a lot,” Cummins said. “You can be too involved in the community to the detriment of the office.”
Dow’s campaign rival also accuses the county’s top prosecutor of losing an unprecedented number of cases because of a lack of experience.
“I believe the reason Dan Dow has had so many failures in cases, is because of his abject lack of sufficient trial experience, only one felony jury trial” Cummins said. “In four and a half years, I prosecuted 81 felony cases and had five murder convictions.”
In June, Cummins legally changed his name to Judge Mike Cummins so that his name would reflect his career as a judge on the ballot. He plans to campaign on his experience and public safety.
“I believe I can do a better job than the incumbent is doing,” Cummins said. “It is truly about public safety.”