This week, the State Bar Court of California took the rare step of not only finding Del Norte County Dist. Atty. Jon Michael Alexander guilty of misconduct but recommending disbarment to the California Supreme Court. Many of us have long complained that prosecutors are rarely punished for abuses like withholding evidence, even when such misconduct leads to costly reversals. This case sends a stronger message that we will not continue to tolerate prosecutors who routinely withhold evidence and violate ethical rules. I have personally seen all of these forms of misconduct by prosecutors in prior cases without any sanction or discipline resulting for those responsible. The Justice Department has a particular poor record in disciplining its attorneys even in the face of outrageous acts of misconduct from supporting torture to withholding evidence.
In the opinion below, Alexander was found guilty of withholding exculpatory evidence, perjury and speaking to a defendant without the permission of her attorney.
Notably, this is Alexander’s fourth such case of discipline. He was elected in 2010.
Alexander, 64, was found to have conducted business with people that he worked with in his official capacity. That $14,000 loan raised questions because the officer has to make independent judgments in cases that were handed by Alexander first as a public defender and then as a district attorney.
One of the most serious violations involved Alexander meeting with a defendant in a drug case without the knowledge of her attorney. He was then found to have lied under oath in saying that he had immediately informed the defendant’s lawyer. He was also charged with failing to reveal of another lawyer that the woman had provided exculpatory evidence about his client.
Here is the opinion 11-O-12821-2