Home | News | Obits | Classifieds | Local Shopping | Motorway | Real Estate

April 11, 2006
TUESDAY

Submit An Ad
Marketplace
Auto Shopper
Bridal Connection
Careersite
Classifieds
Coupon Book
Employment Guide
Employment TV
Employment TV Live
Local Shopping
Real Estate Guide
News
Regional
National
Finance
Health
Politics
Technology
Weather
Sports
Oakland A's
Oakland Raiders
S.F. 49ers
S.F. Giants
S.J. Sharks
G.S. Warriors
Cal
Stanford
Entertainment
Celebrity News
Just For Fun
Movie Times
The Buzz
@Recess
Special Sections
Chronology '05
Our Town
Discover Oroville
Paper Services
Subscription Services
Site Services
Contact Us
Retail Ad Rates
Classified Ad Rates
National Ad Rates
Location Map
Enter search term(s)

Link To Article   Print Article   Email Article

Oroville's Own District Attorney Mike Ramsey
BY PAULA M. FELIPE/Public Safety Reporter

PAULA FELIPE/MERCURY-REGISTER Butte County D.A. Mike Ramsey
In 1862, his great-grandparents met on a wagon train and were married on the Bidwell Bar Bridge. He was born in the Curran Hospital on Robinson Street in 1948, and has served as the Butte County District Attorney for more than 18 years. Mike Ramsey grew up on Gawthorne Avenue with his parents and younger sister, and still lives in Oroville. His father is a longtime Oroville resident and served as a game warden from the 1930s to 1950s. Mike attended Eastside, Bird Street, and Central Middle schools and graduated in 1966 from Oroville High School. "Las Plumas High School first opened in 1962," Mike said, "so our OHS class was the first to graduate with LP's class."

Mike was tiny as a freshman and played quarterback during the OHS/LP football game. "I remember Jimmy Thompson picking me up and throwing me around because I threw a touchdown pass and he was so excited. I was only 5'2" and about 98 lbs.," he said. After Mike was injured in football, he decided to try other sports. "I switched to wrestling after that because they match you with someone your own size. I was in the 'mosquito' league," Mike said smiling. He also boxed in high school. Among his OHS classmates, 12 went on to become attorneys.

Mike received scholarships to attend UC Berkeley. "Oroville is the greatest town," he said, "People were very generous with scholarships that paid for my college tuition." During summers, Mike worked in the cannery in Oroville. He studied at UC Berkeley for five years, graduating with degrees in math, science, and history. Mike also boxed and became the NCAA middleweight champion in 1969. "We only had three schools in the league at the time; Berkeley, Chico, and Reno," he said with a laugh. One time Mike was knocked down and saw "cartoon stars," but his long arms helped to keep him from harms way.

After graduation, Mike learned the county school office was looking for substitute teachers, so he began working as a teacher and continued to work at the cannery. Mike also enjoyed fishing and wrote some articles about it for the Oroville Mercury-Register. "When the sports editor became ill, Dan Beebe Sr. asked if I would cover sports," Mike said. He had been editor of Tiger Tales in high school. Mike became interim sports editor for the Mercury-Register and put out a daily two-page sports section. "We had one page devoted to Little League and high school sports," he said. When the sports editor returned, Mike become a feature writer. His childhood friend Nick Ellena had always been quite adventurous, like driving his VW bug from Oroville to the tip of Chile. "One day when I get out of college," Mike told him, "I want to go with you on an adventure." That day came when Nick invited Mike to travel to South America, backpacking for three months. "I got a leave of absence from the paper and was told I could write stories, take photos, and mail them to the paper," he said. "I became the paper's 'foreign correspondent,' Mike chuckled, "I mailed three stories a week," he said. He didn't have e-mail or a computer in those days, so the stories were hand written. "When I came back, I was surprised to learn they had published everything I sent them," he said. Mike became the newspaper's public safety and court reporter. "I followed the cases in court and found criminal law fascinating," he said. One day he had a revelation. "I can do this," he thought. After covering the courts as a reporter for two years, he decided to go to McGeorge Law School in Sacramento.

The first semester he had a paid internship researching law for Oroville Deputy D.A. Jerry Hermansen. "I knew right away this is exactly what I wanted to do," Mike said. He also interned for the California State Attorney General on consumer law. His second semester, he came back to Butte County D.A.'s office. When he became a 'bar certified law student' he was permitted to try cases under the tutelage of an attorney. He selected the jury and tried four cases, with three guilty verdicts and one hung jury. While Mike studied for the bar exam, he was hired at the Sacramento D.A.s office. In 1977, he graduated from law school, and in 1978, Mike returned to Oroville and became a deputy district attorney. "I remember the day was on my mom's birthday," he said smiling.

After two years, Mike took on all felony cases dealing with child abuse for the next seven years. "It used to be that different attorneys would become involved at various stages, such as at the preliminary hearing, trial phase, and sentencing. It was like an assembly line. But that changed and I stayed with one victim all the way through," he said. In child abuse cases, Mike said, "You witness the depth of human depravity and height of human survivorship. It's amazing how young people survive and have the courage to stand up to evil and adversity."

Mike felt compassion for the children who were abused and has worked to bring about many positive changes. The D.A.s office now has a children's room with books and games. "We help them get through very difficult times." Before, child victims had to be interviewed at the minimum by a patrol officer, D.A. investigator, CPS worker, and counselor. Now they are all brought to one place for the interview by a trained expert, and it is videotaped and broadcast to the other specialists. Mike was also involved with developing the Drug Endangered Children's program with Sue Webber-Brown. "The narcotics officers at that time were focusing on the drugs and arrests, and not thinking about the children as victims," he said. The DEC coordinates with other agencies to look after the best interests of children in drug homes. "We thought we were behind the curve, and found out our program was not only the first in Butte County, but also in the nation," Mike said.

Among most pressing issues today, he said, are drugs, a tremendous upsurge in gang activity, identity theft and economic crimes, like computer-age scams, drug and alcohol-related domestic violence, and child abuse.

Mike also has to travel to various parole board hearings. "We remind them of the facts of the case and present the people's side of it," he said. Sometimes the board denies parole for a year, two years or more and then Mike has to return on whatever future hearing date is set. What does he find most rewarding? "When justice is done. And, that doesn't just mean when someone is convicted that needs to be. It is also exonerating those who are not guilty and about protecting people's constitutional rights," he said. Mike also spoke about the importance of the drug court. "It's not just about getting tough on crime. It's about being smart on crime and getting to the root causes. With some people, if you get rid of the addiction, the criminal activity ceases. With others, they will commit crimes with or without the drugs," he said. Mike also has a passion to create an integrated computer justice system which coordinates information with other agencies.

In his spare time, Mike still enjoys sports and plays basketball and softball in adult leagues. "We may be old, but we're slow," he chuckled. He also scuba dives, but doesn't have much time for travel these days. He enjoys television's Star Trek, listening to 60s music like Bob Dylan, he has a passion for science, history and is fascinated with forensic science. He said CBS's CSI is not reality and gives jurors unrealistic expectations.

Mike has three grown daughters and a grandson. His wife Carol is an attorney who heads the Child Support Services in Glenn County. "She is amazing," Mike said. "I loved growing up in Oroville and was blessed to have my parents," he said. "I dearly love Oroville. Growing up, it felt like a Mayberry-type existence."

RETURN TO TOP