People v. Eubanks

927 P.2d 310 (1996)

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People v. Eubanks

California Supreme Court
927 P.2d 310 (1996)

Facts

Eugene Wang (defendant) was a former Borland International (Borland) officer. Gordon Eubanks (defendant) was an officer of Borland’s competitor Symantec. Borland contacted the district attorney’s office (DA) after finding email messages from Wang to Eubanks containing confidential information. The DA had limited funds to investigate. Borland indicated its willingness to pay for experts. Two computer specialists were retained. One specialist submitted his bill directly to Borland. The DA submitted the other specialist’s invoices to Borland for payment. Wang and Eubanks were indicted for conspiring to steal trade secrets. The court indicated that the stolen secrets might not be trade secrets for criminal purposes. Wang and Eubanks moved to recuse the DA based on Borland’s payments. The court concluded that Borland’s payment of the DA’s debts created a disqualifying conflict by making it reasonably possible the DA would decline to drop the charges or plea bargain because it felt obligated to Borland. Reversing, the court of appeal found that the payments did not create a conflict, but even if they did, the conflict’s gravity was insufficient to warrant recusal. The California Supreme Court granted Wang and Eubanks’s petition for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)

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