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Name: People v. Petrisca
Case #: B188294
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 04/30/2006

Appellant, who was charged with murder, moved to recuse the entire office of the Los Angeles District Attorney because one of the deceased victim’s sons was a deputy prosecutor in that office. Appellant argued that the relationship created a conflict of interest for the DA and made it unlikely he would receive a fair trial. The trial court ordered recusal under Penal Code section 1424 after it found that a prosecutor in that office would feel more uncomfortable than a prosecutor from another agency. The appellate court in this opinion reversed the recusal, holding that the court applied the wrong legal standard in making its decision. Section 1424 states that a recusal motion may not be granted unless the conflict of interest is so severe that it would require disqualification, and a defendant’s inability to receive a fair trial must also be at issue. Here, no member of the DA’s office was a direct victim or witness, and the assigned prosecutor had minimal contact with the victim’s son. The evidence did not show a conflict of interest.