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Haraguchi v. Superior Court

43 Cal. 4th 706, 182 P.3d 579, 76 Cal. Rptr. 3d. 250 (2008)

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Haraguchi v. Superior Court

California Supreme Court

43 Cal. 4th 706, 182 P.3d 579, 76 Cal. Rptr. 3d. 250 (2008)

Facts

In 2005, Massey Harushi Haraguchi (plaintiff) was charged with rape of an intoxicated person. Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley represented the state in its prosecution of Haraguchi. Haraguchi’s criminal-defense attorney alleged that Dudley refused to engage in plea negotiations, asserting that she wanted the case to go to trial. In addition to being a prosecutor, Dudley had also written a novel called Intoxicating Agent, wherein the main character was a district attorney trying an intoxicated-rape case. In 2006, around the time Haraguchi’s criminal trial was set to begin, the book was published. Dudley locally promoted her book at bookstores and via television interviews. Haraguchi moved for Dudley’s recusal, alleging that the plot in the book had significant overlap with his case and that her promotion unfairly influenced how she handled the case. The trial court denied Haraguchi’s motion, finding that there was no significant conflict warranting recusal because the overlap in detail was coincidental, the book was unrelated to Haraguchi’s case, and the publishing and promoting of the book was not prejudicial. On appeal, the court of appeal declined to defer to the ruling of the trial court because it “had no precedent to guide it.” Thus, without deference, the court of appeal held that the evidence showed that Dudley’s interest in promoting her book were so great that it presented a conflict as to Haraguchi’s ability to receive a fair trial.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)

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