Date: December 9, 2015
SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Lubinski has released a statement regarding the order issued Dec. 3, 2015, by the Honorable Richard M. King, “Order Denying Motion to Disqualify Judge,” in case # 12CF2292, People v. Jesus Montes and Ismael Zacaula.
“We respectfully disagree with Judge King’s opinion and we intend to seek immediate appellate review.
We believe the decision is contrary to well-established statutory and decisional law. The people of the state of California, through its Legislature, have enacted California Code of Civil Procedures section 170.6. Section 170.6 conveys upon every party the right to exercise a single peremptory challenge against any judge that litigant believes, in good faith, is prejudiced against him or her or his or her case. The authority conveyed by section 170.6 is a substantial right that is part of our system of due process and exists to ensure fair and impartial trials.
The People fully adhered to the procedural requirements of 170.6 by doing precisely what the law requires: timely and properly filing an affidavit in support of the challenge. The law does not require a party to explain his or her reasons for peremptorily challenging a judge. Nor may a court inquire into those reasons. It requires only that the party have a good faith belief that prejudice exists.
The OCDA is not ‘blanket papering’ Judge Goethals. Even following his ruling recusing the OCDA on People v. Scott Dekraai, prosecutors have consistently litigated their cases in front of Judge Goethals, including a serious robbery case in his courtroom today. In 2015, prosecutors took dozens of cases to Judge Goethals; 14 went to jury trial, including one attempted murder, and two murder cases: People v. Lucero Carrera and People v. Tuumamao Nelson Tuiolosega.
The OCDA continues to authorize its attorneys to exercise the same right enjoyed by every attorney in the state of California. Namely, to individually determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether he or she believes he or she can get a fair trial before any assigned judge. ”