Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Can You Continue to Handle Case You've Put on the Big Screen?

The California Supreme Court is considering whether a prosecutor can stay on a murder case after serving as an adviser to a film about it. The Court of Appeals said that the prosecutor must be recused but the DA's office could continue. Calif. High Court Takes Up Recusals Over Film, Book, The Recorder (, Dec. 22, 2006.

The case being reviewed is Hollywood v. Superior Court, Cal. App. (2d Dist. Oct. 5, 2006). (The defendant is actually named Jesse James Hollywood.)

The movie, Alpha Dog, is due to be released Jan. 12. No matter who the prosecutor is, won't it have some effect on the defendant's trial to have a big movie depicting what's supposed to be his life. (The parents in the movie are Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone -- that's some star power!) At least the main character in the movie is named Johnny Truelove, not Jesse Hollywood. But still, isn't there a risk of tainting the jury pool? IMDb's plot outline is "A drama based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI's most wanted list."

On its own motion, the California Supreme Court is reviewing a similar case -- a challenge to a prosecutor who wrote a crime novel about a date rape similar to the one the defendant is accused of. Haraguchi v. Superior Court, Cal. App. (2d Dist. Oct. 5, 2006). (Earlier post is here.)

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