A North County judge ordered a new trial in a case where prosector conduct was questioned not only by the defense but by the judge himself.
On Tuesday, Judge Harry Elias ordered an ex-con facing life in prison for stealing two bikes would get a new trial because of prosecutor's "willful omission" of sharing fingerprint evidence, the North County Times reported.
During the case, Judge Elias criticized the prosecutors’ handling of fingerprint evidence and said the DA's office has a bad reputation among some defense attorneys, and other judges.
Prosecutors, who insist they did absolutely nothing wrong in that case, filed a motion demanding Judge Elias should step down from the case because those comments reveal “a clear mindset of bias and prejudice.”
“We take our duty to do that very seriously and we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards,” San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.
Elias said he had done absolutely nothing wrong, and would stay on the case.
In Tuesday's ruling, Elias said he didn't dismiss the charges because the prosecutors "willful omission" of sharing evidence would not have changed the jury's findings of guilt, the paper reported. He also said he had considered issuing an order of contempt for the deputy district attorney but didn't because a fine wouldn't "solve the damage done to Bowles" according to the nctimes.
Elias is a former prosecutor, with years of experience on the bench. He's handed high-profile cases, like the trial of off-duty policeman Frank White, who was acquitted of negligence in the shooting of a motorist.
One veteran attorney said Judge Elias is an excellent jurist, with a reputation for fairness.
“He doesn't always rule their way, but he calls them the way he sees them, and that's all you can expect from a judge," said attorney Lynn Beheymer.