WOODLAND — Early in his legal career, Clint Parish took an executive fellowship with the California Attorney General’s Office in Sacramento. While there, he assisted in the prosecution of a Colusa County murder case.
It was during that trial that Parish first saw how violent crimes affect their victims and survivors — in this case, the devastated family of a woman who was tortured and killed by two men who then stole her car.
“From that point on, I really only wanted to be a prosecutor and help victims,” Parish said.
Parish’s next job was as a prosecutor for the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, where he has remained for the past decade. He started out handling misdemeanor crimes — DUIs, public intoxications and the like — before moving on to some of the county’s more serious criminal cases, including robberies, assaults and murders.
“You can really see the impact (crime) has on the victims,” said Parish, who estimates he’s handled more than 1,000 cases and 55 trials — about 40 of them felonies.
Today, Parish wants to take his criminal-law experience to a different level. He notes that Yolo County has seen the retirements of many of its longtime criminal-court judges in recent years, and he says he has the background to fill that void.
“You need to know it to be good at it,” said Parish, who is looking to unseat incumbent Yolo Superior Court Judge Dan Maguire in the June 5 election. He says despite his prosecutorial past, he could be a fair and impartial judge.
Parish, 40, says he has no personal beef with Maguire. Their families attend the same church. Their kids go to the same school.
“I’m not running for judge against him because I think he’s a bad person,” Parish said, though he has called Maguire’s appointment by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “political payback.”
“I’m running because of the experience our courts need in criminal law,” he said.
Parish was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He served three years in the U.S. Army starting in 1990 — the same year he married his wife, Evelyn — and later graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s degree in history.
He earned his law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in 2000, and the following year received his master’s degree in law with an emphasis in government and public policy.
In addition to his courtroom duties, Parish serves as the lead attorney for the District Attorney Liaison Program, which fosters communications between the DA’s Office and Yolo County’s law-enforcement agencies. Through that program, Parish has taught classes on various legal issues to hundreds of sworn peace officers and cadets.
Outside of the office, Parish is a member of Luna Vista Rotary, Woodland Kiwanis and Knights of Columbus, and has coached for his children’s sports teams.
If elected, Parish likely would be assigned to other types of cases at first in order to avoid conflicts of interest. But he says his background is essential in a courthouse where criminal cases make up a majority of the docket.
He cites Assembly Bill 109, the measure enacted last October that calls for felons convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual crimes to serve their time in county jails rather than state prison. Parish said his experience in criminal-law matters will ensure those people are suitably sentenced.
“Who’s walking our streets is really important to a lot of people,” Parish said.
Parish’s major backers include his boss, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Sheriff Ed Prieto, as well as the Woodland, Winters and West Sacramento police officers’ associations. Crime Victims United of California also has endorsed him.
Other supporters have included two jurors who served during the trial of Noelle Warren, whose felony hit-and-run case Parish prosecuted last year and resulted in a three-year prison sentence for the Dixon woman. The family of the victim in that case, Jonathan Pinkerton, also has contributed to Parish’s campaign.
“It’s nice to see that the people who have seen me in action are wanting me to be a judge,” he said.
Parish and his wife, who live in Woodland, have four children: Elza, 11; Cole, 10; Emily, 7; and Christian, 5.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene