Alameda County DA disqualifies veteran judge from hearing criminal cases

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Saturday, April 8, 2023
Alameda Co. DA disqualifies veteran judge from criminal cases
Alameda County DA Pamela Price announced in a social media video that she will prevent Judge Mark McCannon from ever hearing a criminal case again.

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price took the extraordinary step of announcing in a social media video that she will prevent a veteran judge from ever hearing a criminal case again.

Once again, Price has refused our request for an interview, but she's trying a new tactic - posting recorded statements on social media that don't allow for any follow-up questions.

Several longtime veterans in the field of criminal justice - lawyers and judges - tell the I-Team, they've never seen anything like this: a district attorney going on social media and attacking a veteran judge.

EXCLUSIVE: After meeting with DA Price, Jasper Wu's family is still worried they won't get 'justice'

After meeting with Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Jasper Wu's family says they are still concerned they won't get "justice."

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price claims, "Judge Mark McCannon overstepped his boundaries as a judicial officer."

Mark McCannon has been a Superior Court Judge 10 years after his appointment by Governor Jerry Brown; before that, he was an Alameda County prosecutor for 16 years. Price says he should hear no more criminal cases: "My office will file a motion to disqualify him from hearing any criminal cases being prosecuted by our office."

It's all because Judge McCannon rejected the plea deal Price offered Delonzo Logwood, accused of three murders - one during a carjacking/robbery, a murder for hire, and killing a witness set to testify against his step brother. He faces 75 years to life in prison if convicted. Price offered him 15 years on a single voluntary manslaughter charge.

And this week, after Judge McCannon denied Price's motion to remove himself for bias, she announced she's going to prevent him from hearing any criminal cases.

EXCLUSIVE: Former Alameda Co. prosecutor voices concerns, calls DA's policies dangerous

Price said in the social media video, "The judge is supposed to be an impartial referee, managing cases that come before him."

"You're trying to tear this system down from the inside out," argues defense attorney Michael Cardoza. He worked as a prosecutor in L.A., San Francisco and Alameda County before becoming a defense attorney. He explains Price could actually prevent Judge McCannon from working on criminal cases because of California Code of Civil Procedure 170.6. An attorney - for the defense or prosecution - has one chance to disqualify a judge before a trial starts.

Cardoza explains, "And then we stand, attorneys stand and take an oath. Say, we don't believe we are going to get a fair trial in front of Judge Noyes. Judge goes, 'Okay, I will send it to someone else.' We don't have to explain why we do not have to explain why. We just don't want you for whatever reason."

EXCLUSIVE: Inside Alameda Co. DA Pamela Price's closed-door meeting; I-Team obtains recordings

So, if Price puts out this blanket order to her attorneys, Judge McCannon could never see another criminal case. He'd have to retire, or start hearing civil matters.

LaDoris Cordell was the first female Black judge in Northern California, and she tells the I-Team, "The DA has, I think, adopted a scorched earth policy with regard to the judge, and, and basically she in doing so has attacked his reputation, all of which I think is undeserved."

Judge Cordell tells us she has never heard of a district attorney making this move against a Superior Court judge, and is worried about what happens next: "What about the next judge who gets a case from this DA? Who says no, I'm not going to approve this plea bargain and explaining why I'm not going to do it, then what's going to happen? The DA is going to say, Okay, you're next up, and now we're not going to allow filings in your court. I'm very concerned. And I hope this doesn't set a precedent."

Judge Cordell tells us this situation may lead to a change in state law. Prosecutors in Price's own office are raising another issue with the I-Team - could her social media video attacking the judge prejudice the jury in the upcoming trial? That's set to start in 10 days.

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