Legal Ethics

No Criminal Charges for PD Over Claimed In-Court Challenge to Deputy DA to Duke It Out

A California public defender won’t be prosecuted for reportedly issuing an in-court challenge to a deputy district attorney to duke out a dispute over a hearing date in a drug case.

But San Joaquin County Public Defender Peter Fox may have to answer to legal ethics authorities for his alleged call for physical confrontation during an expletive-laden tirade over a refused delay in the case, the Stockton Record reported.

After an investigation by local authorities, San Joaquin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Fichtner made the call not to refer Fox’s case to the state attorney general. However, he called the incident “clearly inappropriate and unprofessional” and says he will refer the matter to the California State Bar and “they can address it as they see fit.”

As detailed in an earlier post, Fox has lost about a third of his staff due to budget cuts in the financially troubled state.

Related coverage: (April 2008): “Biff! Bam! Wallop! 2 Lawyers Duke it Out in Oregon Courthouse” (June 2010): “Public Defender Choked Prosecutor in Court Hallway, Police Say”

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