The California Court of Appeal has affirmed the recusal of the Orange County DA’s office from a high-profile murder case, upholding the trial court’s finding that the office had a conflict of interest so severe it was unlikely the defendant would receive a fair trial. The court also noted that the OCDA’s “substantial” failures in turning over evidence showed that it “cannot be relied upon to comply” with its obligations in the case moving forward.
The case involves a decades-long jail informant program run by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Scott Sanders, the public defender in the DeKraai case that uncovered the program, says that in many Orange County cases, informants held recorded and unrecorded conversations with inmates who were represented by lawyers. This would be a violation of an inmate’s right to counsel. Prosecutors are accused of taking damning evidence gathered by the informants and presenting it in court, while withholding evidence that could benefit the defense.