Troubled Prosecutor Gets New Assignment

This hasn’t been a very flattering year for Santa Clara prosecutor Benjamin Field.

The deputy has been plagued by prosecutorial misconduct allegations — first by the San Jose Mercury News in January and most recently by the Sixth District Court of Appeal, which called Field’s tactics “deceptive and reprehensible.” (.pdf)

News leaked today that Field won’t be prosecuting homicide and gang cases any more. Instead, he will be joining the economic crimes unit, where he will be handling intellectual property, major fraud and real estate cases.

Field insists that the reassignment has nothing to do with the hoopla surrounding his track record in the courtroom.

“It was my request,” Field said. “I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve handled violent murders and rapes almost that whole time.”

Field, who was once eying a bid for DA, said he wanted to try something different.

“It’s a new challenge,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Sixth District reversed a jury verdict in a sexually violent predator case Field prosecuted in 2005.

The court reversed the defendant’s commitment order, finding that Field has ignored two in limine orders stating that he not tell the jury that the defendant would be sent to a state hospital, not prison, if found guilty.

Disregarding the court’s order, Field specifically made reference to the consequences of a true finding in his rebuttal argument before the jury.

— Julie O’Shea

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