Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

A criminal complaint charged petitioner Shawn Melcher with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and other crimes. One of petitioner’s alleged assault victims was Alan Serpa. Serpa’s wife, Barbara Yook, was the Calaveras County District Attorney. Before the trial court, petitioner moved to recuse the Calaveras County District Attorney’s office from prosecuting his case because of the connection between the victim the district attorney. The trial court denied the motion, ruling petitioner failed to show the conflict of interest was so grave he was unlikely to receive fair treatment. Petitioner sought writ relief from the Court of Appeal. After review, the Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion, and therefore denied the petition. "The mere fact the victim and the district attorney are married does not establish a disabling conflict where there is no evidence she has influenced the prosecution, an ethical wall prevents the district attorney from influencing the case, and the district attorney waives any rights to participate in the case as a victim or a member of the victim’s family." View "Melcher v. Superior Court" on Justia Law