It's possible that prosecutor Andrew Ganz will have his license to practice law suspended for three months, based on a recommendation by State Bar Court of California Judge Pat McElroy after Ganz was found guilty of prosecutorial misconduct.
The State Bar of California not only suspended Ganz's license for 90 days but has put him on probation for two years and a one-year stayed suspension. However, Ganz' lawyer plans to appeal. If history is any guide, Ganz may get off pretty easily for his egregious misconduct.
Although Ganz is currently a San Francisco prosecutor, this case concerns his time with the Solano County District Attorney's Office. In 2014, he was handling the prosecution of Michael Daniels, accused of killing his girlfriend a local hotel room in 2012.
A Solano County pathologist gave prosecutors detailed information about why the woman's death was most likely not a homicide, and told them their theory about the death was unsubstantiated. However, Ganz did not disclose that information to the defense, as he should have.
Acknowledgment of Sloppiness
While State Bar prosecutors wanted Ganz to have a six-month suspension, the judge demurred, saying Ganz didn't intentionally commit any acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption.” It sounds like not telling the defense that the pathologist didn't think the victim's death was consistent with a homicide just slipped his mind, and that seems just fine.
Ganz admitted to “sloppiness” regarding the case and took responsibility.
Honestly, how could he not have taken responsibility? What excuse could he have used to defend himself against not sharing this critical information? Maybe sloppiness is the new synonym for intentionally withholding information.
Is that his excuse for another set of allegations he is facing regarding a San Francisco homicide case? A San Francisco public defender recently filed a motion against Ganz for omitting “critical” parts of a medical examiner's opinion in People vs. Carlos Arugeta.
The difference is in that case, he's also allegedly changed a key eyewitness' testimony before the grand jury. That was after a judge initially threw out the case. How “sloppy” does Ganz have to get before it's obvious he has a pattern of corruption?
707 Cases | Six Disciplinary Actions
Ganz' case is exceptional in that a judge actually recommended the three-month law license suspension. Over 12 years, from 1997 to 2009, California courts found 707 cases of prosecutorial misconduct – but the State Bar only disciplined six of these prosecutors.
That's less than 1 percent of the cases, which is half the already abysmal number of prosecutor misconduct cases resulting in sanctions nationwide. That number is a whopping 2 percent. Even the paltry number sanctioned get off with the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. That means there's little incentive for prosecutors to act ethically in criminal cases.
ACLU Call to Action
The ACLU responded to Ganz' finding of guilt by calling on the San Francisco and Solano County District Attorneys to appoint outside counsel to review all cases handled by Ganz. The ACLU notes, “A district attorney has the power to change a person's life forever and the “win-at-all-costs” mentality is happening in many DA's offices must be changed.” Amen to that.