DA's office fights Butch Ford recusal order, trial on hold

Price says Ford improperly helped a defendant in a police shooting case. Ford says the case has been driven by political retribution.

DA's office fights Butch Ford recusal order, trial on hold
DA Pamela Price at a press conference in January 2024. Emilie Raguso/Aipsasiamedia

The Alameda County district attorney's office has appealed a judge's decision to remove it from the misdemeanor case against Butch Ford, one of DA Pamela Price's biggest political opponents.

Price says Ford improperly helped a defendant in a police shooting case. Ford says the charge was driven by political retribution.

Last week, Judge James Cramer granted a defense motion to recuse the entire DA's office from the case, noting that DA Price's "overarching comments" about the case since it was filed last year have been "outside the realm of what is normal in a criminal proceeding."

Cramer appointed the state attorney general's office to handle the matter but the DA's office appealed the ruling on Monday.

Under California law, the appeal automatically stays Cramer's order, which means the DA's office remains on the case pending resolution of the appeal.

During a brief hearing Tuesday, the parties agreed to vacate a trial date, which had been set for Jan. 22.

The matter is not slated to return before Judge Cramer until Feb. 27 for a pretrial hearing.

DA's appeal in Butch Ford case could take months

Attorneys for the defense say a three-person panel of Alameda County Superior Court appellate judges will now review the case, which could take months.

Depending on the outcome, the DA's office could also appeal that ruling, the defense said.

"This is a nice way to ice the case," said Micheal O'Connor, part of Ford's defense team. "Butch now has to stay on the sidelines."

O'Connor said the appeal is unlikely to succeed because "there's a lot of deference to the trial court's ruling on these cases to begin with."

Read more about Pamela Price on The Scanner.

Ernesto Castillo, another member of the defense team, said the appeal has no merit.

"This is just being dragged out.… past the recall election," Castillo said. "And we're going to ride this out until it dies."

In addition to criticizing Price publicly, Ford has also been a strong proponent of the effort to recall her.

Alameda DA’s office recused by judge from Butch Ford case
The judge said DA Price’s “overarching comments” about the case had been “outside the realm of what is normal in a criminal proceeding.”

After last week's hearing, Castillo called the case against his client "a bogus charge."

"This couldn't be more political or personal against Butch," he said. "This is the most frivolous case I've ever seen in the 20 years that I've been practicing."

The Alameda County DA's office declined to comment on Tuesday morning's hearing.

A prosecutor who appeared for the state attorney general's office, Caitlin Duprey, also declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the attorney general's office said by email that the office will continue to review the matter.

Price charged Ford with a misdemeanor in July of last year, alleging that he broke the law by helping a defendant while he was an Alameda County prosecutor.

If found guilty, he could be disbarred.

The DA's office said last week that jail time is likely off the table.

And, according to the defense team, disbarment is also unlikely.

"With this particular code section, there's a potential of a disbarment but, in the cases that we've seen that are 100 times more egregious where someone was convicted of something, we don't even see a disbarment in those cases," Castillo said. "So, at the end of the day, there's always this question about what's the purpose of this charge other than political motivation?"

Read more about the case

DA Pamela Price hits her biggest critic with misdemeanor charge
Price says Butch Ford breached rules of conduct by aiding a defendant. Ford called the claims “political retribution” for his vocal criticism of Price.
Price critic facing misdemeanor blasts DA for security breach
The DA’s office made Butch Ford’s address public, in violation of state law and the union contract, when it charged him with a misdemeanor this week.
Price critic facing misdemeanor demands speedy trial
Price says Ford helped a defendant while he was an Alameda County prosecutor. Ford says Price is going after him because he’s a whistleblower.
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