Conflict of interest denied in crime-lab scandal case

An independent judge has denied claims of bias made by prosecutors about another judge who lambasted District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office in the wake of the crime-lab scandal.

In May, Judge Anne-Christine Massullo slammed the District At-torney’s Office for failing to provide information about lab technician Deborah Madden’s criminal past to defense attorneys, which is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Harris had placed the blame with the Police Department, which held Madden’s personnel records but failed to provide a history of disciplinary actions to prosecutors.

Massullo, however, said prosecutors were just as much to blame because they work closely with police and that “by at least Nov. 19, 2009, individuals at the highest levels of the District Attorney’s Office knew that Madden was not a dependable witness at trial and that there were serious concerns regarding the crime lab.”

Prosecutors countered with court filings claiming Massullo’s husband was a defense attorney and had appeared on a panel to talk about the so-called Brady issues, creating a conflict of interest that should disqualify Massullo from ruling on the case. Under Brady policy, a witness must disclose any past criminal history.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills was brought in to rule on the motion and denied it in a decision filed Wednesday.

The District Attorney’s Office said the motion was only a way to get clarification about a possible conflict of interest, according to spokeswoman Erica Derryck.

“Judge Massullo invited us to file this challenge after refusing to respond to direct queries in open court for information about an appearance of conflict,” Derryck said.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

SF speeds up testing for first responders as Sheriff’s Department is hit by coronavirus

Miyamoto rolls out daily temperature checks at jails, hospitals and courthouses

‘Outbreak’ expected at Laguna Honda Hospital after seven test positive for virus

The day after the first patient at Laguna Honda Hospital tested positive… Continue reading

Gov. Newsom orders statewide ban on evictions for renters affected by coronavirus

The measure prevents the evictions of renters over the nonpayment of rent through May 31

San Francisco 911 dispatcher tests positive for coronavirus

Union seeks additional testing for Call Center workers

Breed urges residents to ‘stay home’ as coronavirus cases reach 279

Multiple parking lots closed to discourage prohibited gatherings at beaches, parks

Most Read