Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is losing support for his reelection campaign after he was accused of making racist remarks during a meeting in 2021 about a Black defendant involved in a murder case.
In a letter to Judge Gregg L. Prickett, Lt. Court Depweg stated that Spitzer allegedly dropped the death penalty in a case in order to deflect from statements that he made in regards to race during the discussion of a high-profile murder.
Comments were made by Spitzer during a meeting regarding the case of Jamon Buggs. Buggs was charged with the murders of Wendi Miller of Costa Mesa and Darren Partch of Newport Beach in Partch’s apartment in 2019. Buggs proceeded to visit an Irvine apartment with a gun, looking for a person associated with his ex-girlfriend.
Former Senior Assistant District Attorney Brahim Baytieh wrote a memo that noted the inappropriate statements made by Spitzer, such as Spitzer saying that “he knows many Black people who get themselves out of their bad circumstances and bad situations by only dating white women.”
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan revoked her endorsement of Spitzer, as established by Dan Rottenstreich who serves as Stephan’s campaign consultant.
“I can confirm San Diego DA Summer Stephan rescinded her endorsement of DA Spitzer,” Stephan’s consultant Dan Rottenstreich said in a statement to Voice of OC.
The racially motivated comments made by Spitzer have also led to Orange County residents and other elected officials losing faith in an elected official.
“When Todd Spitzer sat in that room with other prosecutors weighing whether or not to pursue the death penalty in the case against a Black man and the racist remarks … that tells us that he has no integrity,” Penelope Lopez, organizing director of Chispa – a nonprofit that works to increase and assist Latinx voters – said.
“I advised Mr. Greevy that the actions by his office would affect our working relationship moving forward and it was disappointing that he and so many of his colleagues would try and cover his matter up,” Depweg said. “The cover-up is always worse than the crime.”
Former Marine Judge Advocate Pete Hardin stated that Spitzer’s comments and the actions supported by his administration ultimately violated California’s Victims Bill of Rights.
“Todd Spitzer’s racist remarks are exculpatory evidence, and his attempts to bury that evidence is the very definition of prosecutorial misconduct,” Hardin said. “Todd Spitzer has zero regard for law and ethics. He’s a tyrant who will steamroll any victim or whistleblower to protect himself.”
Despite the allegations, Spitzer addressed the comments by stating his belief that they were relevant in the context of the case.
“I was completely and utterly disgusted by his characterization of a conversation regarding the race of Buggs (African American) that occurred during an October 1, 2021 meeting of the Special Circs committee,” Spitzer said in a memo. “My questions about Buggs and what the race of former girlfriends was simply to address the issue of cross-racial identification, the single biggest reason for murder convictions to be overturned.”
Spitzer’s comments were viewed as inappropriate by other prosecutors who were in the room.
“I stated that the race of the victims is completely irrelevant and it will be inappropriate for the OCDA to consider or give any weight to the race of the victims,” Baytieh said in his memo.
Spitzer responded to the issue of his remarks by further arguing that no one, including Baytieh, raised concerns about his Oct. 1 remarks until months later just as the election calendar was heating up.
“Not only was [the memo] inaccurate, but it attempted to show my statements in the worst possible light, without explanation or context,” Spitzer said.
Kayode Giwa is a City News Intern for the winter 2022 quarter. He can be reached at email@example.com.