Alameda County

Alameda County Judge May Be Disqualified From Hearing Any Criminal Cases by DA

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An Alameda County Superior Court judge may soon be disqualified from hearing any criminal cases brought forth by District Attorney Pamela Price’s office.

It comes after the DA took to social media Wednesday afternoon saying the judge overstepped his boundaries.

It all stems from a triple murder case that was about to go to trial, when newly elected Price brokered a 15-year plea deal with the defense last month.

But, a couple weeks ago, judge Mark McCannon rejected the deal, as he said that he wants a jury to decide.

Price responded in a YouYube video saying, “I can say that judge Mark McCannon overstepped his boundaries as a judicial officer. And has created a firestorm of prejudicial comments that do not, in my view, serve justice.”

Price reminded her viewers that a judge is “supposed to be an impartial referee.”

“Because of judge McCannon’s inappropriate comments and conduct, on two separate occasions, my office will file a motion to disqualify him from hearing any criminal cases from being prosecuted by our offices,” Price said in the video.

Legal Analyst Steven Clark says that Price does have the right to take McCannon off criminal cases.

Under the law, the DA's office isn’t required to state its reasons and the judge does not have a right to object or ask for an explanation.

“You’re basically saying, this judge cannot exercise discretion on any case involving the DA's office. I think that’s something that needs to be done in a very careful way,” said Clark. 

He said it is common for judges to get taken off single cases. But all cases? That’s unusual.

“To issue a blanket challenge against a judge is something that’s highly irregular and it also calls into constitutional questions of separation of power,” said Clark.

It’s not clear what all this means for the triple murder case that McCannon rejected the plea deal on. He set the trial date for that case for later this month.

As for McCannon, NBC Bay Area reached out to the court for a comment and has not heard back.

However, The Chronicle is reporting the judge denied the DA’s motion to have him removed.

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