Yet Another Screwup Prosecutor Goes Unnamed

They’re still at it — appeal court justices, that is, who don’t name misbehaving prosecutors in court rulings.

Last week, Los Angeles’ Second District Court of Appeal omitted the name of L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Nicol Walgren in an opinion reversing a robbery conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct. Instead, the court chose to refer to Walgren as “the prosecutor” 30 times.

That makes at least five times in the last four months that appeal courts in California have chosen to keep miscreant prosecutors’ names out of print. It’s a practice defense lawyers hate and that Chief Justice Ronald George recently told Cal Law might be worth abandoning in the name of fair play.

In the most recent example, Second District Justice Frances Rothschild ruled on Aug. 16 that Walgren committed misconduct during closing arguments by improperly vouching for the integrity of her office and for victim Hector Pedraza to get Jaime Alvarado convicted. The defendant had been accused of intimidating the 16-year-old victim into giving him his bicycle.

Rothschild and Justice Robert Mallano said Walgren went too far when she argued: “I have a duty and I have taken an oath as a deputy district attorney not to prosecute a case if I have any doubt that that crime occurred. The defendant charged is the person who did it.”

The justices said “the prosecutor’s” words improperly invited guilt based on “the prestige of her office.”

Justice Miriam Vogel dissented, saying an “air-tight identification” of Alvarado and the “absence of any affirmative defense” prevented Walgren’s comments from affecting the outcome.

Vogel never wrote Walgren’s name, although she did refer to “the prosecutor” twice.

Mike McKee


3 Responses to “Yet Another Screwup Prosecutor Goes Unnamed”

  1. Bonnie Russell Says:

    Judicial protective conduct is the reason behind South Dakota’s Amendment E – ( for which a Lot of money from judicial associations is funneling it’s way to South Dakota….

    and why was created.

  2. Brock Dickie Says:

    The judgment was actually reversed on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel for defense counsel’s failure to object to the prosecutor’s comments, yet the opinion makes no mention of trial counsel’s name. Neither do you. It seems that it is your commentary that lacks balance, Mr. McKee.

  3. Brock Dickie Says:

    I retract my posting above. After rereading the opinion, it seems that you are correct in the court did not actually find IAC, but just determined that the misconduct was of such character that an objection would not have cured the harm. My apologies.

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