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Judge denies dismissal request by former county prosecutor in leaked information case

Attorney accused of sharing confidential DA's Office work product with defense in police officer's manslaughter case
(Stock image)

A judge denied a motion last month by former Alameda County prosecutor Amilcar "Butch" Ford to dismiss charges against him involving Ford allegedly giving confidential information to the attorney of a San Leandro police officer in a voluntary manslaughter case.

The Alameda County DA's office said Oct. 26 that Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Cramer denied Ford's motion to dismiss the pending charge against him.

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price charged Ford with one misdemeanor count of defending after prosecuting as a prosecutor in violation of Business and Professions Code 6131(b)

Ford -- who left his job to work for the San Francisco DA's office -- allegedly gave confidential information from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to attorney Michael Rains last April. Rains represents former San Leandro police officer Jason Fletcher in a voluntary manslaughter case.

Fletcher is accused of unlawfully killing Steven Taylor at a San Leandro Walmart store in 2020, following charges filed by then-Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley in September of that year. Taylor was allegedly shoplifting.

Ford also allegedly authored a declaration of support for Fletcher, which Ford has denied.

Price said in a statement, "We applaud the court's decision to reject this frivolous objection to the prosecution of Mr. Ford. Prosecutors have a special responsibility to uphold and protect the integrity of the criminal justice system. Mr. Ford betrayed that process by interfering in the prosecution of a case involving a police officer, potentially making it more challenging for this office to hold that officer accountable for his actions during a fatal use-of-force incident.

"It is imperative that they take extra care to avoid any actions that may undermine the fundamental principles of fairness and justice."

Ford has entered a plea of not guilty and is scheduled to return to court Nov. 16 to discuss whether he will be booked on the misdemeanor charge, the DA's office said.

Ford allegedly violated a section of the penal code saying a public prosecutor must not directly or indirectly advise or take part in a defendant's case if the prosecutor previously prosecuted or aided or promoted any action or proceeding in a court against the defendant.

Alameda County prosecutors said Ford in 2021 was assigned to manage the case against Fletcher as an employee of the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, which Ford has denied. When the alleged assignment was made, Ford was head of the office's felony trial team.

According to the DA's office, Ford oversaw the Fletcher case for about 18 months and appeared in court on behalf of the DA's office at least once.

Ford said he was head of the felony trial team but said the law and motion team was overseeing the Fletcher case and he was never responsible for the case.

Prosecutors said Ford "relayed the substance of private conversations he had with" another prosecutor "in January 2023 regarding the Fletcher case, including case strategy, attorney assignments, charging options, and other professional opinions about various aspects of the case."

Ford allegedly wrote down what was said in those private conversations and gave them to Rains, who used that information to try to disqualify the Alameda County District Attorney's Office from the Fletcher case. Rains filed the motion of disqualification on April 26, Price's office said. Following that motion, Ford gave Rains the confidential information and the declaration of support, according to Price's office.

Ford said he can't suffer consequences for his actions because California Labor Code 1102.5(a), says an employer cannot prevent an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency or a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry "if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation."

Following the court ruling in the Ford case, Price's office filed a motion to disqualify Rains and his firm Rains, Lucia, Stern, St. Phalle & Silver from continuing to represent Fletcher in the homicide case for allegedly misappropriating privileged attorney work product from the DA's office as a result of Ford's actions.

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