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Thursday, August 5, 2010

DA Kamala Harris' Challenge to Crime Lab Ruling Rejected

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 6:15 PM

click to enlarge Kamala -- you've been judged.
  • Kamala -- you've been judged.
Prosecutors in the office of District Attorney Kamala Harris have failed in their efforts to prove a bias claim against the judge who reprimanded the DA's office for its handling of a scandal at the San Francisco Police Department's drug-testing lab.

In May, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, while overseeing a number of criminal cases that might have been affected by alleged drug-tampering and theft at the lab, ruled that Harris had not complied with her ethical obligations to inform defense attorneys of the facility's problems. The ruling was a major blow to Harris as she campaigns to be California's next attorney general.

Harris' office challenged the decision, asserting that Massullo's husband's work on behalf of a client in federal court whose case was affected by the drug lab scandal -- as well as his appearance on a panel discussing prosecutors' disclosure obligations -- created a conflict of interest that should have led the judge to recuse herself.

However, the judge assigned to review Harris' challenge -- Judge Thomas Wills of Monterey Superior Court -- found that no proof of such a conflict existed. Wills wrote in his decision that there is "absolutely no evidence of financial gain" to Massullo or her husband based on her actions in the drug lab cases, and that her husband's appearance on the panel presented no problems.

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Peter Jamison

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