Lifetime term in ‘racial justice’ case – ORANGE COUNTY TRIBUNE


Courts and law

A COUNTY OF ORANGE judge overturned death sentence in “racial justice” case (Shutterstock).

NEWPORT BEACH, AP — A judge has found an Orange County district attorney violated the state’s new racial justice law in his discussions of a black man sentenced to life without parole in a case of double murder.

Jamon Buggs was sentenced on Friday for the 2019 murders of a man and a woman in Newport Beach.

The sentencing came after Judge Gregg L. Prickett found that Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer violated a state law aimed at ensuring racial justice for defendants in a meeting on whether to seek the death penalty for Buggs. Prickett said an appropriate remedy would have been to take the death penalty off the table for Buggs, but Spitzer had already decided not to seek it.

The issue came to light earlier this year when an internal memo from a former prosecutor raised questions about a Buggs case meeting in which Spitzer asked about the race of Buggs’ former girlfriends.

Spitzer said race was an issue because authorities suspect Buggs targeted the man because he mistakenly believed he was dating Buggs’ white ex-girlfriend. Spitzer said he passed information about the conversation to the judge as a precaution, though he doesn’t think California’s new law – which prohibits authorities from seeking a conviction or sentence based on race – requires it. .

Denise Gragg, one of Buggs’ lawyers, raised concerns in court on Friday about possible bias in the case.

“If you can’t even recognize that this is bias, how can you make sure or make sure there weren’t decisions made in this case or not made in this case who have been influenced by this bias?” she says.

Kimberly Edds, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office, said the judge found Buggs was treated fairly throughout the case.

“District Attorney Spitzer requested life without the possibility of parole and that is exactly the sentence the defendant was given by the judge,” she said. “Justice has been served.”

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