Its been 10 days since his abrupt release from state prison to an overnight stay at the San Bernardino West Valley Detention Center to then walking free into the California desert heat. Bill Richards now is processing his new life in a very public forum. His latest venture is in front of Cal Western Law faculty and students.
While his future involves many small personal steps to some vestige of normalcy, Richards still is within “touching distance” of the San Berdoo prosecutors who claim to need more time to investigate whether he is innocent. Politicized prosecutors live in a world of spin and a dissembling persona of “fighting for justice for the victims.” Its clear that this DA’s office has no concept of its responsibility for creating actual victims from their own sloppy forensic work and over-rated faith in “convictions being final.”
I expect the Cal Western crew will pop SB DA Ramos’ continuing investigatory puffery through more litigation. After that, there will be efforts to gain Mr. Richards financial compensation for his wrongful conviction.
The backroom story to all this is that Ramos is teetering on the brink of being subject to a claim of abuse of discretion, capricious prosecution and conflict of interest. Capricious means “unreasonable.”
Ramos has publicly stated that criminal appeals are frivolous and circumventing California’s rightful use of the death penalty. This objectively rejects defendants’ Constitutional rights and categorically rejects the US record number of 1831 exonerations indicating innocence proceedings have been successful. This shows prosecutorial bias and egregious conflict of interest exists within the SB District Attorneys Office. Do the rules of California law allow a prosecutor to double-double down on re-investigating ad-nauseum to protect his “perfect” record of no exonerations during his current political campaign for State Attorney General?
Statutes do exist prohibiting capricious prosecution. Ramos will state that someone else in his office other than himself is “reviewing” this announced-in-court re-investigation. This is no cure when the chief DA shows such conflicts to real justice in these attitudes which he so blatantly publicizes in his own county and on his statewide campaign trail.
A judge or the current state AG Kamala Harris could take this problem and appoint a special prosecutor. Since Ramos is running for Harris’ governmental position, her getting involved seems slim. For political reasons of course. She probably will be supported in her rising campaign for the US Senate by California’s DA Association. What a twisted web we have surrounding William Richards’ freedom.
The California section on this has two requirements to succeed.
“Section 1424, the standard governing prosecutorial recusal, calls for a two-part analysis: (1) whether there is a conflict of interest and (2) whether the conflict is so severe as to disqualify the prosecutor. The trial court’s decision to order or deny prosecutorial recusal is reviewed for an abuse of discretion; the findings of fact are reviewed for substantial evidence, its conclusions of law are reviewed de novo, and application of the law to the facts is reversible only if arbitrary and capricious.