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Name: Spaccia v. Superior Court (Los Angeles)
Case #: B239472
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/06/2012

Recusal of entire District Attorney’s Office is not required where allegation of conflict was based on speculation and failed to show a likelihood of unfairness. Petitioner is a former official for the City of Bell, facing criminal prosecution for alleged misconduct. By motion in the trial court, she sought to recuse the entire Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office based on its alleged involvement with one of the witnesses petitioner asserted could provide exculpatory testimony for her. The lower court denied a hearing or recusal; petitioner sought a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal denied the petition. Penal Code section 1424 provides that a motion to disqualify a prosecutor requires a showing that there is a conflict of interest that would render it unlikely that the defendant would receive a fair trial. The statute requires a conflict that creates “an actual likelihood of leading to unfair treatment.” Recusal of the entire district attorney’s office is an extreme step that requires a showing that recusal is required to assure a fair trial. Petitioner failed to demonstrate an abuse of discretion in denying her motion because her arguments for the likelihood of unfairness were based on speculation. Nor did the trial court err in denying a hearing on her motion. It is up to the sound discretion of the court whether to grant such a hearing. In order to establish an abuse of discretion in denying a hearing, petitioner must show that sufficient affidavits and/or other admissible evidence were submitted to the court to establish a prima facie case for disqualification. That did not occur here.