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Name: People v. Vasquez
Case #: S128854
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/10/2006
Summary

Appellants were charged with second degree murder. Vasquez’s mother was an administrator in the prosecutor’s office; his father was a deputy district attorney. The assigned prosecutor claimed not to know either of them. Appellants wished to waive a jury, but the prosecutor declined to waive jury. The first jury hung, and the case was retried. Appellants moved to disqualify the D.A.’s office for conflict of interest, under Penal Code section 1424, contending that the prosecutor refused to waive the jury because she did not want to appear to show favoritism. The trial court denied the motion, and appellants were convicted of second degree murder. The appellate court affirmed the convictions, and the Supreme Court granted review. The Court held that not all erroneous denials under Penal Code section 1424 result in due process violations. The participation of the conflicted prosecutor in this case did not violate appellants’ due process rights. The trial court’s failure to disqualify the prosecutor was error, but was not prejudicial under the standard of People v. Watson. J. Moreno and C.J. George dissented, holding that reversal was required because the error constituted a due process violation.