DA’s expert witness never earned her college degree

April 21, 2018

Tracy Nix


A woman who has testified in dozens of cases and been offered as an expert witness by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office does not have a college degree that she has claimed in court. [Cal Coast Times]

Tracy Nix, an 18-year DA’s office staffer, has testified in court and written in her resume that she holds a bachelors degree from Cal Poly. The District Attorney’s Office offered her as an expert witness in a sexual abuse case in 2014.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Maderino asked Judge Jacquelyn H. Duffy to declare Nix an expert. Manderino offered Nix’s resume, which included the claimed college degree, and called Nix to testify about her qualifications.

“Do you have a bachelor’s degree?” Manderino asked Nix, according to the trial transcript.

“I have. I do,” Nix testified.

“And is that from Cal Poly?” Manderino asked.

“It is,” Nix testified.

But Nix never graduated, her Poly profile shows.

District Attorney Dan Dow says Nix’s testimony was not perjured because she “walked.”

“Walking” means a student has participated in the university commencement ceremony. Students wear academic robes and walk across the stage to shake the hand of the university president and college dean.

Dow said that because Nix “walked,” she believed that she had graduated and earned her degree.

“If she believed she had a degree, then she did not commit perjury” Dow said. “It is common at Cal Poly for people to believe they have graduated when they have not.”

District Attorney Dan Dow

Students who have not graduated can walk as long as they agree to finish their degree requirements within two quarters, according to the Cal Poly Registrar’s Office.

During the expert witness hearing and in front of the jury, Nix also testified that she had taught an advanced psychology class at Cal Poly every quarter for five years for Connie Hanretty-Church. Hanretty-Church is a lecturer in the Psychology and Child Development Department.

“Have you taught any classes in the area of child forensic interviewing?” Manderino asked, according to the trial transcript.

“I have,” Nix testified.

“Could you describe that?” Manderino asked.

“For the last, I believe four to five years, I have taught once a quarter at Cal Poly, to the advanced psychology class about recognizing and assessing child abuse as well as very basic interviewing, forensic interviewing techniques,” Nix testified.

Church said in an email that Nix was not a lecturer or a teacher, but a guest speaker at the campus.

“Tracy was a guest speaker several years ago (2014) when I taught an upper division course entitled, “Child Abuse and Neglect,” Hanretty-Church wrote in an email. “She was a regular guest speaker for several years, can’t recall if it two or three years.”

Nix continues to insist she was a guest lecturer at the university, as does Dow.

“I have just spoken with Connie Hanretty Church, the Cal Poly Lecturer who used Ms. Nix as a guest teacher/lecturer in her classes,” Dow wrote in an email. “Ms. Hanretty-Church has confirmed that Ms. Nix indeed taught in her classes regularly over several years.”

Lecturer is a formal academic rank used by universities including Cal Poly.

Nix’s testimony was part of the DA’s case that resulted in Ronald Cowan’s conviction on sodomy, oral copulation and lewd acts with a child. He was sentenced to 65 years to life in state prison.

In Feb. 2017, the state appeals court reversed the decision based on prosecutorial misconduct. Manderino “had told the jury that the presumption of innocence applies only until the charges are read,” according to the appellate court decision.

Ronald Cowan

The Cowan case is schedule to be retried next month in the San Luis Obispo Courthouse. Dow did not respond to questions over whether or not the district attorney’s office plans to have Nix testify at the upcoming trial.

Even though Dow says that Nix did not commit perjury, he has begun to notify attorneys about her lack of a degree.

Under a U.S. Supreme court case (Napue v. Illinois), prosecutors have a responsibility to correct the testimony of witnesses they know to be false. Prosecutors also have an obligation to inform other defendants about issues over the credibility of their witnesses.

“Our office is actively taking steps to notify each defendant’s attorney (in cases where Ms. Nix testified as a witness) of the fact that Ms. Nix did not receive a diploma awarding a bachelor degree,” Dow wrote in an email.  “It will be up to each defendant and their counsel to decide whether it is a significant enough issue in their individual case to warrant filing of a motion with the court.”

While Nix admits she did not graduate from Cal Poly, she stands by a number of other statements she wrote in her resume.

In a 2018 resume, Nix wrote that she worked in Toulumne County in the 90’s as a child forensic interview specialist, a job the human resources department in Toulumne County said does not exist.

In a recent email, Nix wrote that while her job classification was social worker, she was assigned as a child interview specialist in both Toulumne and San Luis Obispo counties.

Until recently, Nix was classified as a social worker IV, a job that currently requires at least a bachelors degree, according to SLO County’s job class specifications. At the time Nix was promoted to social worker IV, the position did not require a college degree.

A few months ago, Dow changed Nix’s job classification to program manager, which does not require a college degree.

During her opening statement in the Cowan case, Manderino referred to Nix as an investigator, a title that was later repeated by the appellate court in a published decision. During the trial, Manderino refers to Nix using several titles, but never social worker.

“Social Worker is a very generic job classification and does not precisely describe or reflect the specific duties that Ms. Nix performs as a child forensic interviewer for our Bureau of Investigations,” Dow wrote in an email. “She is squarely a member of our investigative team who obtains evidence through her expertise as a child forensic interviewer.”

Also in her resume, Nix says she interviewed a child and provided expert testimony and consultation in a case against the Orcutt Unified School District.

But the case recently settled and never went to trial. Clay Hall, the attorney for the school district, hired Nix to work as a consultant and an expert witness, he said.

Tracy Nix

“I don’t believe she interviewed the child,” Hall said. “She did not testify as an expert witness, the case settled.”

In a recent email, Nix confirmed she never provided expert testimony in the Orcutt Unified School District case. She said, however, that she did testify as an expert witness for the county in 2014, as she wrote in her resume.

Tracy Nix and her husband SLO County Sheriff Commander Aaron Nix filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy several years ago. The pair makes approximately $300,000 a year in salary and benefits, according to Transparent California.

For more than four years, Tracy Nix has supported the political campaigns of both District Attorney Dan Dow and Sheriff Ian Parkinson. On Facebook, Tracy Nix has asked her friends to vote for Dow and to contact her in order to get a ball cap promoting Parkinson’s campaign.

Even though Nix has now confirmed she never graduated from Cal Poly, Nix wrote Sunday on Facebook that she is planning to attend grad school, saying she knows much more now than she did while working on her undergrad degree.

Tracy Nix Resume by Cal Coast Times on Scribd


Social Worker Requirements COUNTY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO by Cal Coast Times on Scribd


Will Nix be the nail in the coffin for both Dow & Parkinson?


Dust off those college diplomas people! May 1st is bring your college diploma to work day at the DA’s office and Sheriff’s Department. Unless of course you walked somewhere….anywhere. If that is the case just bring in a blank piece of paper and pretend.


“Dow said that because Nix “walked,” she believed that she had graduated and earned her degree.

“If she believed she had a degree, then she did not commit perjury” Dow said. “It is common at Cal Poly for people to believe they have graduated when they have not.””

This is complete and utter nonsense. I walked over a year before I finally graduated and Cal Poly makes it extremely clear to every student who walks that this does not mean you have a degree. This is common knowledge amongst all students. You have to meet with an advisor to go over your degree requirements so you know exactly what classes you have left to take to get your degree. They also inform you of a case where someone was investigated for perjury by the FBI when they filled out government security clearance paperwork stating they had a degree when they did not. There is zero chance that Nix was not aware she lacked her degree, unless she was truly incompetent.


She has the qualifications she needs, to break the law that is, she is married to a police officer and she is friends with the wife of Sheriff Parkinson. Laws that apply to us don’t apply to those in the protected class.


I was at Cal Poly during the mid to late 80’s. I clearly remember NOT graduating from Poly. I had my reasons, but I remember NOT graduating.

I also remember friends of mine not completing their senior projects and not graduating. They remember it too.

I remember my friends names, where I lived, professors, fun times, and all of that. I do not remember graduating. I’m not the least bit confused on the matter.

If we assume that Tracy Nix can’t remember clearly whether she graduated or not, then Dow is correct: she did not commit perjury. But her brain disorder and loss of memory renders her completely unfit to be an expert witness.

On the other hand, Does Dan Dow really think we’re that stupid and naive to believe that people get confused as to whether they graduated or not? Or, as is more likely the case, does he realize that it doesn’t matter what we think and that he and his fellow lawyers and LEO’s are above the law and it doesn’t matter what the unwashed masses of law breakers and potential law breakers (that’s us) thinks?

If Parkinson and Dow are re-elected get ready for a huge mess in SLO county. How can a person who doesn’t remember graduating but “thinks” she did qualify as an expert witness? Such a person has a brain disorder.

The easiest, simplest explanation for this is thus:

1. Nix lied and embellished her resume and used her connections to score a good job with the DA that she was not qualified for.

2. Due to personal friendships and loyalties, Nix was given the job and her resume was never vetted.

3. Upon learning of this error, Dow is making up stories and goofy legal opinions as to why all those cases should not be appealed and/or overturned.

This is a huge story, and there’s not been a word of it from the propaganda outlets, namely the Tribune and KSBY. If you add this up, the sum says that we’re being lied to and liars are putting people in jail for their own ends.


Sorry, Doc, but the fact that you and your friends remember disqualifies you from being an expert witness!


And here we are, 4 full days after these revelations and there is ZERO mention on KSBY or the Tribune.

Anyone who thinks they are being informed by local media (CCN excepted) are fools. The handling of this event is proof of that.

The implications of this—-namely appeals and many automatically overturned verdicts—will be costly for We, the Tax Slaves. The possibility that innocent people could have gone to jail due to her embellished testimony is a likelihood….and the certainty that guilty people will go free as a result of her perjury isn’t good either.

Then, we have to ask ourselves, “Why is the county law enforcement/DA/media relationship so dysfunctional? This is far beyond a “good ole boy’s” thing. This is an amateur display of corruption.

And no mention of it in other media……


Let’s make May1st Bring Your Diploma to Work Day for the DA’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. One way to avoid future fraud and perjury.


Why should they , they get away with it why not … screwed up thinking .. one word Obama..


What a screw up! Lying under oath!! Taxpayer cost is going to be huge. Parkinson, Dow, Tim Covelo all should go as incompetent.


Her husband is a “Chief Deputy”, a senior high ranking Sheriff’s official and a personal friend of Sheriff Parkingson, so he knew about this! Very sad to hear about this, corruption on a high level.


She sounds like the perfect candidate to work for John Wallace at Wallace Group!


Here’s one “proof” that this story is true and very likely much “bigger” than we know here:

Neither the Tribune or KSBY are covering the story. Total blackout. Nada.

If it were untrue, the propaganda outlets would be engaged in denouncing “fake news” etc. But they are silent….as if they live in alternate universe where these things are not happening.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this story…..


The Trib and KSBY are waiting for DA Dow and Sheriff Parkinson to finish the changing of records and the attempts by their office’s to cover up the details and if they think they are successful then KSBY and the Trib will report the “real” news.


I suspect that at least one innocent person is behind bars due to Mrs. Nix’ testimony.

I also suspect that at least one guilty person who is locked up due to Nix’s testimony will get out and commit more crime.

The innocent person—-assuming there is one—-should be able to sue SLO county for a massive amount of money. I think that award should come from the County employee pension system, not from the taxpayers.

In the meantime, the courts should be seriously busy with all the automatic appeals that will arise on from the vast majority of the cases she’s testified in.

I hear the bus in the distance…..it’s 50/50 whether Nix will get thrown under it by Dow. It could be that Nix and her husband have enough dirt on Dow and the gang to insure a code of silence. Of course, this is all my personal speculation.

BTW, I did not graduate from Cal Poly….at least I don’t remember doing so. It’s possible I did and just don’t remember.