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D.A. race of battle of friend and foe

Erik Schlueter garnered 465 more votes than his boss for the El Dorado County district attorney position in the March primary election. For November’s runoff race, he hopes to feed off his success.

Schlueter, 48, has been a deputy district attorney in El Dorado County for 15 years. If he wins the election over incumbent Gary Lacy, he sees himself instituting changes in the office, such as being at South Lake Tahoe for one week every month and being more of a trial attorney.

Once the person who ran the advertisements in Lacy’s 1994 campaign for district attorney, Schlueter said he became disillusioned when his former friend and current boss moved away from the promise to be a trial attorney after winning the election.



“He didn’t keep a single campaign promise and that was an affront on me because I was supporting him,” Schlueter said. “The decisions he was making were more of being afraid to step forward. One was trial. He has everything to lose and nothing to gain by going to trial and that to me is a mark of somebody trying to stay elected. That’s not a mark of a district attorney.”

In his defense, Lacy said the district attorney’s job is too busy and complicated to spare time prosecuting cases.




Dale Schafer forced the November runoff when he received more than 5,000 votes for district attorney. Schafer is known primarily for his pro stance on medical marijuana.

In hopes of attracting Schafer’s constituents, Schlueter has set his own guidelines for medical marijuana. A person with a doctor’s prescription or recommendation can possess 1 pound of dry, processed marijuana or six unharvested plants or a combination of the two not to exceed 1 pound.

Schlueter, the oldest son of an Air Force officer and a school teacher, was born in Texas during the summer of 1954. He moved frequently, living in such places as Denmark, Wisconsin and Oklahoma before settling down in Southern California when he was about 15.

Denmark holds a special place in Schlueter’s heart. He speaks Danish, his mother is Danish and moved to the United States to marry his father after World War II.

What he took from her was having the strength to confront the tough things in life and the courage to stick up for the neglected.

Schlueter’s father, after retiring from the Air Force, became a probation officer.

“He was probably one of most fair people I knew,” Schlueter said. “He didn’t make snap judgments. He listened to the problem and got as much information as he could before making the decision. I just went back for the reunion with his World War II squadron. Listening to them talk about him was like listening to what I am.”

When Schlueter was attending the University of California at Riverside, he decided to become an attorney. As long as he can remember he wanted to be involved in law enforcement, but his eyesight, which needs help from “coke bottle lenses,” deterred him from police or military work.

In 1980, Schlueter graduated from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. After stints with the Board of Prison Terms as well as the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, he became a defense attorney for a short time.

In 1984, Schlueter was hired to be a deputy district attorney in Stanislaus County.

Recently the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has looked into comments Schlueter made to a group of women involved in a pyramid scheme called Women Helping Women. Schlueter told that group in Cameron Park during a January meeting that the pyramid was legal.

It was his opinion based on the information he received, Schlueter said.

Lt. Tom McMahon said his department has “a lot of concerns about the appropriateness of comments” Schlueter made before and after speaking with detectives. No charges have been made against Schlueter, but the sheriff’s department is investigating whether he had personal gain or did it with intent for other people to gain from his involvement, McMahon said.

Two weeks before the March election, Schlueter’s wife, Carole, whom he met in Denmark while on a trip with his children, was diagnosed with having a tumor under her brain. Schlueter believed the tumor, which is benign, strengthened their relationship and possibly kept him from winning since he wasn’t campaigning during that time.

He doesn’t drink coffee and sees himself retired in 10 years, filling his time teaching or writing science fiction books. If he wins, he sees himself being the first one in the office and the last one out at the end of the day.

“When taking a class, students can miss the class but the teacher can’t,” Schlueter said. “That’s the way I look at the district attorney. You don’t miss.”

— Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.


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