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Name: Haraguchi v. Superior Court
Case #: S148207
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/12/2008

No recusal was required where the prosecutor published a novel with similar facts prior to defendant’s rape trial. Prior to Haraguchi’s trial for rape of an intoxicated victim, the lead prosecutor published a fictional account of a heroine prosecutor’s decision whether to try a rape case involving an intoxicated victim. The trial court found no conflict of interest. The appellate court reversed and ordered a recusal, relying in part on the unusual and distinctive facts of the cases. The Supreme Court granted review to consider the extent to which involvement in literary and cinematic endeavors may give rise to conflicts requiring recusal. The Supreme Court reaffirmed its rule that recusal motions are reviewed under a deferential abuse of discretion standard. It reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision, finding that it failed to grant appropriate deference and also on the record of evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that no disqualifying conflict existed and that no unlikelihood of a fair trial had been proved. That a prosecutor pursues an independent writing career does not alone create a conflict, absent proof that her writings create a material conflict in a particular case. The trial court in this case could properly conclude that there was none.