Thursday, July 26, 2007
When can the Attorney General intervene?
California law gives discretionary authority to a locally elected prosecutor in filing criminal actions. In deciding whether to file charges, a district attorney must evaluate the likelihood that a jury, after weighing all the conflicting evidence, would find the defendant guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." It may not be uncommon for members of the public to differ with the district attorney's determination, but the decision rests with the local prosecutor. The Attorney General's intervention is appropriate only where there is a demonstrated conflict of interest that would disqualify the district attorney from a particular case; or there is an obvious abuse of prosecutorial discretion. The fact that an incident has created strong feelings within the community or the prosecutor's decision may be controversial or unpopular does not provide a basis for intervention by the Attorney General. Source