OPINION BY LINDA SUTTER
Today in Del Norte Courtroom #1 a case between Jon Alexander versus the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) was described as unprecedented in the State of California for an elected District Attorney to be disbarred and taken out of position by the BOS. Honorable Judge Leonard LaCasse presided over this matter today and agreed. Nowhere in the entire State of California has there ever been a case like this.
Alexander’s attorney Guillen’s, opening statement begins with the question which is at the heart of the matter, “Does the Board of Supervisors have the legal authority to remove an elected official?”
He goes on to present the facts:
· No grand jury investigation conducted
· No recall conducted
· Nor was the Attorney General’s office solicited.
· Additionally, Government Code 25303 indicates that BOS is not in a position to control his conduct.
Further Guillen stated, Del Norte County Attorney presented no legal authority to support their decision to remove Jon Alexander from office. Gov Code 25303 states in part;
The board of supervisors shall supervise the official conduct of all county officers,
and officers of all districts and other subdivisions of the county, and particularly
insofar as the functions and duties of such county officers and officers of all districts
and subdivisions of the county relate to the assessing, collecting, safekeeping, management, or disbursement of public funds. It shall see that they faithfully
perform their duties, direct prosecutions for delinquencies, and when necessary,
require them to renew their official bond, make reports and present their books
and accounts for inspection. This section shall not be construed to affect
the independent and constitutionally and statutorily designated investigative
and prosecutorial functions of the sheriff and district attorney of a county. The BOS
shall not obstruct the investigative function of the sheriff of the county nor
shall it obstruct the investigative and prosecutorial function of the district attorney
of a county.
In response, Del Norte County Attorney Getchen Stuhr laid out in detail the premise of the Board of Supervisors as this was an emergency to the county.
Her points included:
* Alexander was suspended from practicing law indefinitely;
* An emergency was therefore created in the District Attorney’s office;
- Mandated law requires the District Attorney to be a licensed practicing attorney;
- Mr. Alexander was unable to fulfill his investigation or prosecutorial duties;
- California State Bar suspended Mr. Alexander not BOS.
- Finally anything that Mr. Alexander does as a District Attorney could be a financial burden on the County as the County is responsible for his actions.
Judge Lacasse responded, “Powers implied from Constitutional Authority; Habeas Corpus; being prosecuted by a guy without license to practice law could render lawsuits from individuals convicted by Mr. Alexander, resulting in getting said convictions over turned and civil rights violations would be filed. Judge La Crosse goes on to say you cannot aid and abet the commission of a crime when the very person sitting in front of you is violating law.
This case is not over by a long shot. This case is the first of its kind presented in the State of California. Both sides have interesting points and although the BOS did not conduct the necessary due diligence to remove the former attorney from office, the fact remains, he would not have been able to oversee his deputies and sign off on their work because he had no license to do so and doing so would have been violating law.