Defense attorneys for a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend, who are charged with drugging and raping several women, filed a motion Friday arguing that an Orange County Superior Court judge is legally prevented from recusing Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s Office from further prosecuting the case.
Attorneys for Dr. Grant Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley say Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones cannot boot Spitzer’s office off the case, a move Jones is expected to address on Thursday.
The defense attorneys argue that only they can make a motion to recuse Spitzer’s Office, and the standard is whether a conflict exists that would jeopardize their right to a fair trial.
Spitzer’s office has said it would not object to Jones assigning the case to the Attorney General’s Office. Spitzer’s prosecutors in February attempted to have the case dismissed because they argued they did not have enough evidence to prove their case.
However, Jones rejected that motion in June. The argument will come down to whether Jones has the judicial discretion to reassign the prosecutors on the case. The defense team has a pending appeal with another Orange County Superior Court judge on Jones’ ruling to refuse to dismiss the case.
A defense motion to recuse Jones failed when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected it.
Jones’ “intention and design is clear — because it disagrees with the unanimous conclusion of District Attorney Todd Spitzer; his supervisory lieutenants; and the career sex prosecutors who are assigned to this case… regarding the strength of the evidence, the court is set on recusing the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in hopes that the Attorney General’s Office, or some other prosecutorial agency, will see this case differently,” the attorneys argue.
“Despite the court’s plain desire, it simply does not have the legal authority to recuse the District Attorney’s Office under these circumstances,” the attorneys argued.
The defense attorneys further argue, “the only circumstance under which a district attorney can be recused is where there has been shown an actual likelihood of unfairness to the defense. Here, of course, there is no unfairness to the defense by Mr. Spitzer’s continued participation as prosecutor. Indeed, the unfairness that the defendants have suffered, and continue to suffer, in this case has been in spite of Spitzer’s efforts, not because of them.”
The defense attorneys in the past have indicated they might file a motion to dismiss the case due to outrageous governmental misconduct owing to complaints with how Spitzer’s predecessor, Tony Rackauckas, handled the case.
Attorney Matt Murphy, who represents four alleged victims in the case, has argued that the defense attorneys have been colluding with Spitzer to dump the case. Murphy has argued for a recusal of Spitzer’s office from the case.
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