The lead judge in charge of the prosecution of former Santa Clara County supervisor George Shirakawa has made an unorthodox move.
He's recused himself from the case -- and hired his own attorney, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Superior Court Judge Philip Pennypacker spoke "one-on-one" with Shirakawa's defense attorney without a prosecutor present -- and has recused himself from a hearing held Thursday because of that "ex parte communication," the newspaper reported.
Pennypacker might have been called as a witness today in a hearing determining whether Shirakawa pleaded guilty to using public funds -- he gambled with some public money and campaign contributions -- before charging him with another, unrelated felony, the newspaper reported.
Shirakawa's defense attorney made a filing earlier this month that indicated he talked to the judge in his capacity as a "witness," the newspaper reported. He won't be called to testify, but he appears out of the case.
The charges against Shirakawa, who is alleged to have been involved in an illegal 2010 campaign mailer, will stand.