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People v. Conner

Supreme Court of California
666 P.2d 5 (1983)


Facts

In 1980, James Conner (defendant) was charged with robbery and other crimes. Deputy District Attorney Braughton prosecuted the charges. While waiting for Conner’s trial to begin, Braughton heard loud noises coming from the jury room, where Conner was being kept in the sheriff’s custody. Braughton ran to the jury room and discovered that Conner had stabbed and shot the sheriff. Conner then attempted to shoot Braughton and escaped, but was later caught and charged. Braughton told his supervisor about the incident and made a written report to the district attorney (DA). The DA told 10 of the 25 prosecutors at the DA’s office about the incident. Braughton also gave several interviews to the news media about the incident. Conner’s case was reassigned to Deputy District Attorney Nudelman. Braughton had never discussed the case with Nudelman. At trial, Conner moved for a recusal of the judge and the entire DA’s office from his case. Conner argued that the DA’s office should be removed if there was even the appearance of a conflict. The trial court denied the recusal of the judge and the DA’s office on the original criminal charges, but granted recusal on the escape charges because Braughton was a witness to the event and a potential victim. The prosecution challenged the recusal of the DA’s office.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Richardson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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