SANTA ANA (CNS) - An attorney representing alleged sexual assault victims of a Newport Beach hand surgeon and his girlfriend alleged in court today that Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is continuing to meddle in the prosecution of the case.
A spokeswoman for Spitzer denied the allegation and said the county's top prosecutor has cooperated with the Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the case against Dr. Grant Robicheaux, 40, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 33, who are accused of drugging and raping several women.
The District Attorney's Office was kicked off the case by an Orange County Superior Court judge last year.
“Todd Spitzer continues to interfere in this case,'' attorney Matt Murphy, a former Orange County Deputy District Attorney who represents four of the alleged victims, told Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham.
Murphy accused Spitzer of “personally reaching out to prosecutors'' with the Attorney General's Office.
“And that stinks,'' Murphy said.
Murphy also alleged that Spitzer is prohibiting Orange County District Attorney's investigator Jennifer Kearns from talking to the Attorney General's Office without a supervisor present.
“This is exactly the same investigator they tried to give carte blanche to the defense in civil proceedings,'' Murphy said.
“Now the attorney general wants to talk to her and they say, no, she needs a supervisor present... This is incredible... This is unprecedented in Orange County history.''
Murphy cited an internal memo Spitzer wrote.
Murphy told the Attorney General's Office to “cowboy up'' and plow forward with the case or to “appoint a special prosecutor and get out of the way.''
Yvette Martinez, a deputy attorney general assigned to the case, told Pham, “We are conducting a very thorough and independent review of the case.''
Martinez acknowledged that Kearns said she could not speak to the new prosecutors in the case.
“However, we do have most of the evidence'' in the case, Martinez said. “We've received thousands and thousands of videos and photographs that were given to us in an unorganized fashion.''
Murphy asked Martinez, “Has Todd Spitzer personally reached out to you? Has he personally tried to contact you?''
Before Martinez could respond, Pham said, “I think that's the subject of another hearing. We don't have a motion before us. And I don't require any response to victims' statement.''
Robicheaux attorney Philip Cohen said any documents regarding Kearns that Murphy filed should be given to him, which was granted.
Pham granted a continuance in the case until March 4 when Martinez said she had not yet received all of the discovery in the case yet.
Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, said her office “has been completely cooperative with the state attorney general and has turned over all discovery in the possession of our office.''
Some other evidence regarding Robicheaux's medical practice is considered privileged and has been kept apart from the District Attorney's Office and is housed at the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory, Edds said.
“This was done to protect patient confidentiality,'' Edds said.
“We explained that process to the Attorney General and that is now between the RCFL and the Attorney General's Office,'' Edds said.
The District Attorney's Office has “never received a single complaint'' from the Attorney General's Office prosecutors regarding receiving discovery from county prosecutors, Edds said.
Spitzer has assured state prosecutors “unrestricted access'' to all of Spitzer's staff to aid in the prosecution, Edds said.
“The attorney general, not this office, determines who state prosecutors talk to and when,'' Edds said.
Spitzer “has never spoken'' to Martinez, Edds said.
“It is disturbing that Mr. Murphy continues to malign the prosecutors in this case -- first taking disparaging aim at District Attorney Spitzer and two career sexual assault prosecutors and now he's attacking a completely separate entity -- the Attorney General's Office,'' Edds said.
“Yet he is making the same baseless and inflammatory accusations. The (Attorney General's Office) hasn't even completed its review of the evidence, yet Mr. Murphy made it clear in court today that if they can't handle the case, they need to get out of the way. These personal attacks make it clear that he is more interested in grandstanding than the facts of the case.''
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