VALLEJO — The District Attorney’s Office is trying to head off a Monday hearing about the circumstances of the firing and the possible coercion of the doctor who conducted dozens of autopsies in pending Solano County homicide cases by trying to disqualify the judge overseeing the hearing.
Prosecutors filed a motion Friday afternoon to disqualify Judge Daniel Healy, who they accuse of showing bias at recent hearings about the coroner controversy and for “repeatedly offering gratuitous opinions” about the controversy before hearing testimony.
District Attorney Donald A. du Bain has refused to comment on the case. He has not been subpoenaed to attend Monday’s hearing at which two of his three chief deputies and several of his senior prosecutors are expected to testify.
The prosecution posture is set against a backdrop of Healy having previously had to review more than a 1,000 pages of documents about the coroner controversy to determine what documents were relevant for defense attorneys to know about in preparing for a murder trial set to start next week.
At the heart of the prosecutors’ effort to remove Healy from the murder case is Healy’s stating that “in this case, the records suggest that the members of the prosecution and law enforcement met with Dr. (Susan) Hogan in an effort to cause her to change her opinion, then (had her testify) at preliminary hearing to support the murder charge without disclosing or providing discovery regarding this meeting to the defense.”
Prosecutor Karen Jensen is disputing Healy’s interpretation of the meeting, prompting Healy at a Feb. 27 hearing to tell Jensen he could have made a more neutral statement but declined to reword his interpretation.
Jensen also points out that Healy last week rejected a defense effort to throw out the case based on insufficient evidence being presented at a November 2013 probable cause hearing. Even though the ruling favored the prosecution, while making that ruling Healy said he agreed with defense attorneys that there was zero forensic evidence showing the defendant had murdered the victim and that perhaps Jensen should pass on that perspective to her superiors so that someone could “do the right thing.”
Jensen ends her request to dump Healy by saying, “. . . it is my opinion that he has prejudged the facts and issues and that the people cannot receive a fair hearing.”
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.