Dan Dow mishap at sexual assault trial results in dismissal of entire jury panel

District Attorney Dan Dow

A San Luis Obispo County judge dismissed the entire jury panel in a Cambria sexual assault case that SLO County District Dan Dow is personally prosecuting after Dow appeared to trivialize reasonable doubt in his questioning of prospective jurors, something he had been warned against doing prior to committing the offense. [Tribune] 

Before the start of jury selection on Monday in the trial of 72-year-old Herbert George Connor, Judge Jacquelyn Duffy approved a series of motions filed last October by defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu. The motions sought judicial intervention in the case Dow committed any of 19 unlawful courtroom actions that could prejudice the jury. 

Funke-Bilu’s 19 separate motions included requests that the judge intervene if Dow made unfounded hypotheticals, made statements about possible consequences of Connor not being convicted, brought up religion, stated his personal belief that Connor is guilty, appealed to jurors’ passions or prejudices or trivialized or misstated the standard for reasonable doubt. Duffy approved all 19 motions.

On Tuesday afternoon, with just 17 of 62 prospective jurors remaining in the jury pool, Dow began raising hypotheticals about reasonable doubt when questioning jurors.

“Who here flies in an airplane?” Dow asked prospective jurors. “And who’s ever worried either on a plane or before going on a plane that this plane might go down? I know I have. It’s kind of a natural thing.”

Dow asked an individual juror how he or she makes the decision to fly, to which the person responded “statistics,” according to court transcripts.

“If you had reasonable doubt, a doubt that was based in reason, would you get on that plane?” Dow asked.

The juror said no.

“So I think we’ve all been in situations where there might be something that could be dangerous, like getting on the freeway in L.A., different things,” Dow said. “And if your vehicle had a major mechanical problem with it, you know, would you let your children or grandchildren ride in that vehicle?”

Funke-Bilu then objected, arguing that Dow was “trivializing reasonable doubt.” In turn, Duffy directed Dow to not use the hypothetical airplane and vehicle analogies when questioning prospective jurors. 

Duffy later read a transcript of Dow’s comments and granted a motion by Funke-Bilu for a new jury panel.

Connor, Funke-Bilu’s client, is charged with felony counts of assault with intent to commit rape and sexual battery and a misdemeanor count of inflicting corporal injury. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted of all charges.

The charges stem from an incident in which he allegedly forced himself on a 67-year-old woman, groped her and caused her to fall into a door jam while she tried to escape. Connor and the woman previously had a sexual relationship, though there are conflicting accounts as to the nature of their encounters.

Though prosecutors had previously planned to drop the charges against Connor, shortly after Dow’s reelection as district attorney in June, he appeared in court to take over the case. Sitting district attorneys very rarely personally try cases in SLO County.

Funke-Bilu has previously alleged that Dow took over the case because of political pressure placed on him by the alleged victim’s attorney during the height of his reelection campaign. The alleged victim’s lawyer threatened Dow with bad publicity just days before Election Day if the district attorney did not grant the lawyer’s request for a meeting, according to court documents.

Jury selection resumed Wednesday afternoon with a fresh panel of 125 prospective jurors. Opening statements in the case could begin as soon as Thursday afternoon.

Please, be respectful of others. Attack ideas, not users. Personal insults, shill or troll accusations, hate speech, and other uncivil comments will be removed. The comments posted represent the opinion of the writer and do not represent the views or policies of the website.

4 Comments about “Dan Dow mishap at sexual assault trial results in dismissal of entire jury panel”

  1. DLANG says:

    Dan Dow is a religious nut case he reminds me of many of the TV preachers who really are lost in a World of Religious Wacks

  2. honestjohn says:

    Wow! And I thought Barry LaBarbara was the worst D.A. this county ever saw. Dow needs to find another line of work. Is this just in the D.A.’s Office or is this just a sampling of the whole county? Workplace culture is a real thing and can be quite negative if the leadership is not effective. So many disappointments at the County.

  3. Hannah C says:

    Outrageous misconduct and lack of Integrity, ethics, honesty, Dan Dow is off balance mentally, he continues to send bible quotes to many of us, the problem is he apparently does not even what he believes or does not believe.

    He is just like Jim Bakker, Benny Hinn and the many other wacko who lie cheat all in the name God. I for me do not believe anything Dow says or does, I remember the Manderino problem yet he keep her on staff, Tracy Nix who perjured herself for him she is still working, then the utter failures in charging dirt cops like Kevin Waddell, Chad Pfarr, Russ Griffiths, now his buddy the serial raping, child molesting former Paso Robles Sgt. Chris McGuire who after all the massive evidence including witnesses, DNA and more he will not charge this corrupt molesting, raping cop ?

    Sounds like Dan Dow maybe very well be unfit and mentally disturbed to continue in office, he needs to be evaluated by outside therapy and a good MMPI testing as well as in 5150 WIC evaluation as well as seeing a “Shrink”

    Listen to the woman who have been raped, fondled, mistreated, lied to by your staff, I hear he is now prosecuting several elderly men who may be ill do to their ages. Yet Dow thinks he can get them even if no evidence exists. Three of his former classmates from UC Santa Clara Law confirmed Dan was a misguided and lacked integrity even in school he had to cheat. Judge Duffy did the right thing and my bet is this case is full of B.S. as is DA Dan….

  4. Hobsen says:

    Not again ? when is this DA going to learn the rule of LAW ! dude your suppose to be a Lawyer and you do not know the laws or how to Voir Dire a jury pool ?

    This is not the first time this Dan Dow has screwed up on cases as well as some of his deputy DA’s their is a serious problem in his lack of leadership and internal complaints with many Deputies leaving. Just today at Lunch at Downtown SLO Brew several of us were sitting near about 7 Deputy DA’s they are had nothing good to say about this case and many others mentions them by name that is a big no, no.

    After reading a copy of the Sheriff’s report on why X Sgt. Christopher (Rapists) McGuire editorial in the Sunday Paper is horrible what is going on ? Can the DA be trusted ? our opinion is NO, he must go far too many false cases and false charging of people.

    To hear Mr. A. Baird, L. Dunn, M. Frey and other speak so poorly about their boss the DA Dan Dow makes me wonder do we have any competent staff in his office,
    he seems to have an obsession with charging old men with phony alleged sexual offenses ? This McGuire matter needs to go to the state or grand jury as soon as possible. It is apparent the office is out of touch with the laws as the Judge put it all i repeat ALL potential Jurors had to be dismissed ?

Comments are closed.