California v. Superior Court (Tejeda)Annotate this Case
In December 2014, real party in interest Rito Tejeda was charged with murder. A year later, respondent Superior Court of Orange County assigned Tejeda’s case to Judge Thomas Goethals for all purposes and set the matter for a pre-trial hearing in Judge Goethals’ courtroom. That same day, the State moved to disqualify Judge Goethals pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6. The declaration represented that Judge Goethals “is prejudiced against the party or the party’s attorney, or the interest of the party or party’s attorney, such that the declarant cannot, or believes that he/she cannot, have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judicial officer.” Later that day, the superior court denied the motion to disqualify Judge Goethals. The superior court took judicial notice of facts and events outside the scope of this particular case in supporting its conclusions: (1) the district attorney’s office was engaged in improper “‘blanket papering’” of Judge Goethals in murder cases; and (2) the effect of the blanket challenge was to “substantially disrupt the orderly administration of criminal justice in Orange County.” The State appealed the superior court's denial of its motion. The Court of Appeal reversed. "In our view [. . .'Solberg v. Superior Court' 19 Cal.3d 182 (1977)], anticipated circumstances very similar to those faced here. Rightly or wrongly, the Solberg court concluded the peremptory challenge at issue would not constitute a separation of powers violation. Because we are bound by the reasoning in Solberg, we must grant the petition for writ of mandate."