Appellate Courts

By Alma Fausto / Staff Writer
Updated Aug. 6, 2016 8:25 a.m.

The 4th District Court of Appeal rejected a request Friday by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for a rehearing on a ruling that was mainly in the office’s favor.

On Tuesday, Orange County prosecutors asked for three pages to be stricken from a court ruling issued last week, saying there were “irrelevant and unsubstantiated” claims about the office’s efforts to disqualify Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals from cases.

Though agreeing with the court’s decision allowing the disqualification of judges through a process called “papering,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ motion disagreed with parts of the ruling that asserted his office’s efforts to disqualify Goethals were abusive and disruptive of the court system.

The fight stems from Goethals repeatedly ruling against Rackauckas in the controversy over improper use by police and prosecutors of jailhouse informants. In March 2015, Goethals kicked the entire District Attorney’s Office off the case against mass killer Scott Dekraii. The decision is being appealed.

Prosecutors have moved to disqualify Goethals from 46 murder cases, an action some have said is retaliation. Rackauckas has said state law allows attorneys to disqualify judges they believe are prejudiced against them or their cases.

Last week’s ruling allowing the unlimited “papering” at the discretion of prosecutors or defense attorneys, in the meantime, is being appealed by Orange County Superior Court officials.