Bid by former Alameda County prosecutor to dismiss misdemeanor charge denied

OAKLAND — The bid by a former Alameda County prosecutor — and vocal critic of District Attorney Pamela Price — to have the criminal case against him tossed on constitutional grounds was denied Friday.

Amilcar “Butch” Ford was ordered to appear for trial on Nov. 27 after Alameda County Judge James Cramer struck down a request by the former longtime senior county prosecutor to have his case tossed. In ruling from the bench, Cramer disagreed with Ford’s contention that the law in question is unconstitutionally vague or overbroad, while also stressing that his decision said nothing about the actual evidence in the case, filed by Ford’s former boss.

Ford — now a prosecutor with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office — could be disbarred if convicted of defending after public prosecution as the prosecutor, a seldom-used line of the state’s business and professions code aimed at rooting out corruption. He pleaded not guilty moments after the judge’s ruling Friday, and remains free on his own recognizance.

The case stems from a decision by Price to take the rare step in July of charging one of her former employees — a decision that prompted claims by Ford, the former head of Alameda County’s felony trial team, that the prosecution was politically motivated. Ford has publicly clashed with Price on multiple occasions, most notably when he pilloried his former boss at a rally in April that called for Price to be removed from office.

Price alleges Ford broke the state’s business and professions code in April, when he filed a declaration supporting an East Bay attorney’s unsuccessful bid to disqualify Price from the case of Jason Fletcher. Fletcher, a former San Leandro police officer, faces a manslaughter charge in the 2020 on-duty shooting death of Steven Taylor. A month after filing the declaration, Ford resigned to work for San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.

Fletcher is awaiting trial, but the judge in his preliminary hearing expressed doubts that a jury would ever convict him.

In a statement Friday, Price applauded the judge’s ruling and called Ford’s request to toss the charge “frivolous.”

Ford’s attorneys declined to comment after the hearing.

Left unsettled Friday was whether Ford would be booked on the charge, a process which includes having a mug shot and fingerprints taken at the Santa Rita Jail.

Ford’s attorneys have said the process is unnecessary, given the rare nature of the case. And Cramer said Friday that he may not ever order it, given that the purpose of booking a defendant is usually to make sure the court has the right person, and to know their criminal background.

Yet Leah Abraham, a prosecutor with Price’s Public Accountability Unit, was adamant that Ford be booked like most other people facing misdemeanors in the county. Abraham stressed that “Mr. Ford is no exception — he is no different than anyone else accused.”

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16 to settle the issue. Bid by former Alameda County prosecutor to dismiss misdemeanor charge denied

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