Can a District Attorney Also Be a Witness ?

In People v. Conner, 34 Cal.3d 141 (1983), the court upheld the trial court's recusal of an entire district attorney's office. There, recusal was ordered because Braughton, a deputy district attorney, was a witness and a potential victim of the criminal conduct that gave rise to the offenses for which the defendant was being prosecuted. (Id. at pp. 144, 148.) Braughton was in court when he heard loud noises coming from a jury room. He ran to the room and found the defendant holding a revolver; a deputy sheriff was bent over in front of him. the defendant saw Braughton and aimed his gun at him. Braughton ran from the room as the defendant fired the gun; he was not shot. It was later determined that the sheriff had been stabbed and shot. (Id. at p. 144.) The court concluded that substantial evidence supported the court's finding of a conflict of interest given "the dramatic and gripping nature of the circumstances, the pervasiveness of the communications within the office regarding Braughton's relationship to the incident, and the difficulty in gauging their cumulative effect." (Id. at p. 148.)