Michael Selyem is the Deputy District Attorney in San Bernardino County, California. He is the county’s “chief gang prosecutor.”
Selyem, a white man, is currently on paid administrative leave at the direction of San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos. The district attorney was compelled to take this action after the San Bernardino Sun revealed a number of social media posts on Instagram and Twitter by Selyem that were inexcusably racist, profane, and a direct assault on the integrity of the nation’s criminal justice system.
Prosecutor Makes Racist Posts Online
Citing the Sun as its source, CNN recently disclosed Selyem’s social media posts that attacked Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Cal.), former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Mexican migrants. The character disparaging, unconscionably racist posts were carried by CNN.
Speaking about Congresswoman Waters, Selyem wrote: “Being a loud mouthed c**t in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now …”
About Michelle Obama, Selyem posted a doctored photograph of the former First Lady holding a sign that read, “Trump grabbed my penis.”
Speaking about a civilian shot by the police, Selyem wrote: “That s—bag has got exactly what he deserved … You reap what you sow. And by the way go f— yourself you liberal s—bag.”
District Attorney Ramos has ordered an internal investigation not only into the posts that could result in “disciplinary action” but also ordered that all of Selyem’s active cases be reassigned to another prosecutor while a review of all his prior cases be conducted to “make sure that justice was done.”
Primary Duty to Seek Justice, Not Merely Convict
The American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Standards for the Prosecution Function explicitly and unequivocally state:
“The primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to convict. The prosecutor serves the public interest and should act with integrity and balanced judgment to increase public safety both by pursuing appropriate criminal charges of appropriate severity, and by exercising discretion not to pursue criminal charges in appropriate circumstances. The prosecutor should seek to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, consider the interests of victims and witnesses, and respect the constitutional and legal rights of all persons, including suspects and defendants.”
Selyem’s racist social media posts not only trampled this sworn duty into the mud but also exhibits a mindset incapable of honoring that duty. Worse yet, the racist anger and contempt of the posts offer virtually irrefutable evidence that the gang prosecutor is mentally unstable and poses a credible threat to public safety.
Racist Prosecutor Should be Fired
There is only one investigation that District Attorney Ramos should have conducted at the outset—did Selyem make these social media posts? Inasmuch as the evidence is overwhelming that he did in fact put these horrific social media posts on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, the prosecutor should have been fired.
We agree with Ramos that a serious and immediate internal investigation should be conducted into Selyem’s handling of all the cases assigned to him for possible professional impropriety, and we suggest that if any impropriety is found (and we strongly suspect there will be), it should be immediately revealed to the defendants and to his or her counsel of record. A prosecutor with a personal mindset as expressed in Selyem’s social media posts has left a trail of prosecutorial misconduct. You can take that to the bank.
The Selyem posts offers clear evidence that the prosecutor does not respect the rule of law, does not appreciate the concept of justice and is woefully incapable of conducting himself with professional integrity. His posts are comparable to the criminal gang mentality the prosecutor was trying to remove from society.
The California State Bar should also undertake a professional ethics investigation into Selyem’s posts, and, again, if he did put the posts on his social media sites, he should be disciplined. The legal system cannot accept in its ranks a member who is a pathological racist, so much so that he cannot control the anger and contempt embedded in his racism. There is no place for his racism in the legal profession.