California Bar Journal
CBJ - July 2008 #04.
Misconduct charges for 3 prosecutors
California Bar JournalJune 2008Misconduct charges for 3 prosecutorsBy Nancy McCarthyStaff WriterIn three disciplinary cases pending before the State Bar Court, current or former deputy district attorneys are charged with committing acts of moral turpitude and disobeying the law. The bar alleges that two of those charged withheld exculpatory evidence.
In each matter, the bar is seeking either disbarment or a lengthy suspension.
Santa Clara County deputy district attorney Benjamin T. Field currently is on trial, facing 22 counts of misconduct in four matters. Each set of charges results from Field's alleged violations of court orders.
Christopher Cleland, a retired Sacramento district attorney, was tried in April on five counts of misconduct, including withholding exculpatory evidence. Findings by Judge Pat McElroy are pending.
And a ruling is pending in the matter of Santa Cruz deputy DA George Dunlap, who was tried on six counts of misconduct stemming from two automobile accidents and an enforcement stop when his wife was driving.
In the case that has drawn the most attention - and filled a bar courtroom with spectators - Field is aggressively fighting the charges. His attorney Allen Ruby says his client is "not guilty. He's innocent."
Field's trial began in May but was continued last month after the Court of Appeal reversed a case on the grounds Field committed prosecutorial misconduct. The bar filed five additional charges.
The appellate court found that Field made "deceptive and reprehensible" comments to a jury that violated a court order. In that matter, the district attorney filed a petition to commit Dariel Shazier, convicted of sexual misconduct in 1994, as a sexually violent predator. Shazier successfully moved to prevent witnesses from telling the jury what would happen if his petition were granted: he would have been treated in a hospital rather than be sent to prison.
In closing arguments, Field told the jury, ". . . I'm saying also that you should not make a decision based on what you think it's going to be like for the respondent in Atascadero State Hospital." The Court of Appeal wrote that the "statement made it 'crystal clear to this jury. Don't worry about [defendant], he's just going to the hospital. He'll get his treatment.'"...