In Orange County, prosecutors shun a judge

Since Judge Thomas Goethals “began presiding over heated hearings probing the misuse of jailhouse informants, dozens of prosecutors have steered criminal cases away from his courtroom.” In the three years 2011-13, prosecutors made disqualification requests against Goethals six times, or an average of twice a year. “Since February 2014, the district attorney’s office has asked to disqualify Goethals — a former homicide prosecutor and defense attorney — in 57 cases, according to court records. … The surge of disqualifications began around the time the Superior Court judge agreed to allow wide-ranging hearings that brought prosecutors’ mishandling of informant-related evidence under harsh scrutiny.” California procedure allows both sides to exercise a single peremptory (unexplained) challenge to remove a judge they deem prejudiced against their interests. Some defense lawyers claim prosecutors are ganging up to discipline Goethals over rulings excoriating prosecutors for their handling of jailhouse-informant evidence. [Los Angeles Times]

One Comment

  • It would be nice to think that the judges stick together and have one another’s back the way the police and the prosecutors do, nice to think that maybe the judges who wind up with the cases Judge Goethals has been disqualified from go ahead and subject the prosecutors to the same close scrutiny Judge Goethals would have. Unfortunately, seeing the reaction from other judges to Judge Alex Kozinski’s charge that Brady violations are epidemic amongst prosecutors leads me to believe that far too many judges are former prosecutors who have forgotten that they are former and Judge Goethals is probably on his lonesome here.