Cancer forces Santa Cruz County District Attorney to step down

October 8, 2014

Bob Lee PhotoFor those intrinsically involved with the Santa Cruz County court system, it’s been no secret that top prosecutor Bob Lee has been mostly out of the office for the past several months as he battles a virulent form of cancer. Second banana Jeff Rosell, the chief deputy district attorney, has been running the show in his absence.

Wednesday, Lee announced that he will be resigning and will not serve a fourth term in January. Lee is on the ballot in November in an unopposed race; the deadline for candidates to file has long passed.

Lee issued a letter to the media and the public Wednesday that didn’t mince words about his prognosis.

Letter from District Attorney Bob Lee to the Community

Dear Citizens of Santa Cruz County:

In recent months, I have been battling the acute ravages of an invasive and persistent cancer. I wish there was more encouraging news to report. Unfortunately, for every step forward in the last several months, there have been one or more steps backwards. I have won many battles but, quite frankly, seem to be losing the war.

Despite every effort on the medical front and my fervent desire for a different outcome, I have concluded that my health challenges will not permit me to commence my fourth term this coming January as your District Attorney. Every ounce of my strength and energy will be required to fight this insidious disease.

There are no words capable of expressing my heartache at not being able to serve my fourth term. The greatest privilege of my life has been to serve with my staff, and with so many members of the community, to make Santa Cruz County as safe and healthy as possible.

As a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, I wanted to become the District Attorney in order to effect a dramatic change in our local criminal justice system and to give back to the community that had given me so much. I wanted to make sure that victims were properly treated and that perpetrators of violent crimes were being brought to justice effectively.

I feel very proud that my staff and I have achieved those goals. I take great pride in the progress and the positive changes that we’ve accomplished over the past twelve years.

During my battle with cancer, I have done my best to make sure that the District Attorney’s office has remained stable and effective.

Continuity in leadership is what I wish most for the office and the community as I confront the pressing medical challenges before me. I urge the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to appoint Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rosell as my successor. No one inside or outside of the office has a better grasp of how far we’ve come and what will be required to continue moving towards a safer Santa Cruz County. Jeff has earned my complete trust and support, and I know he will be a phenomenal District Attorney.

As I prepare to leave the greatest job that any person could ever have, the inevitable sadness will be softened by the timeless memories of the personal relationships that my wife Barbara and I have developed with so many of you in our community. Nothing could hold greater value for me.

It has been the great honor and privilege of my life to have served as District Attorney of Santa Cruz County. I thank you for having given me that opportunity.

God Bless You All

-Bob Lee

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One Response to Cancer forces Santa Cruz County District Attorney to step down

  1. Susie McBride
    October 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    My heart is breaking over the loss of Bob. I have known him for 23 years. He was by my side in my trial involving two perpetrators who tried to kill me. He was always in favor of the victim and I admire him so much. He is that last of the team that was on board 23 years ago and I feel lost. Barbara, I am so sorry. Your husband was a great man. He will be so sadly missed and it will be difficult for anyone to walk in his shoes. God bless you and your family.

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