DA Spitzer’s remarks to the New York Times, mocking the notion of police accountability, reveal he cannot be impartial in cases where law enforcement officers act improperly

SANTA ANA – Today, Former Marine Judge Advocate and candidate for District Attorney, Pete Hardin, called on Todd Spitzer to recuse himself in every police use of force case in light of comments made to the New York Times. In his comments, Spitzer mocked the notion of police accountability, and therefore revealed his inability to be impartial in cases where law enforcement acts improperly.

“Having served as a prosecutor at every level of our country’s criminal justice system, I know that bringing fresh eyes to old cases is a common practice,” said former Marine Judge Advocate Pete Hardin. “Todd Spitzer’s comments tell us that in Orange County, an entire class of people–police officers–are exempt from such reviews. Prosecutors that implement policies creating two classes of people not only demonstrate their inability to be impartial, they violate their oaths to ensure equal justice under the law. For the public to trust that police will be held accountable for unlawful uses of force, DA Spitzer must recuse himself from all cases where law enforcement officers act improperly.

“As a Marine Judge Advocate I reviewed incidents where fellow service members were involved in potential violations of the rules of engagement and international law of armed conflict. My experience was that Marines welcomed the reviews, because accountability for service members who broke the law helped validate the mission of the law-abiding service members among most Afghans. Any failure to hold ourselves accountable for human rights violations would have blurred the legitimacy of our efforts to liberate the Afghans from the Taliban’s oppression and atrocities.

“Having worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement officers and federal agents at every level throughout my career as a prosecutor in the military, the DA’s office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I know that the vast majority of police serve and protect our communities with distinction. But when they break the law we must hold them accountable, as we do anyone else in society, to ensure justice for victims, and to validate the mission of the good officers in the eyes of the public. Failure to do so destroys community trust, which ultimately endangers law enforcement officers.

“The pursuit of justice is never lost, it cannot be put off until tomorrow, and we can’t kick it down the road because it’s politically expedient. If a prosecutor is compromised, conflicted, or otherwise unable to be impartial, as DA Spitzer has demonstrated here, if there’s new evidence or the original review was otherwise deficient; who you are and what you do for a living must have no bearing on whether a case is reviewed. Spitzer’s comments undermine the District Attorney’s sworn mission of equal justice. That erodes public trust in law enforcement, and in turn jeopardizes the safety of Orange County police officers and citizens alike.”


Current Orange County District Attorney Republican Todd Spitzer’s tenure has been defined by scandal. Four women in Spitzer’s office have filed claims asserting Spitzer promoted an employee and close friend despite having been made aware of the sexual harassment complaints against him. Spitzer later allowed the employee, who was the best man at his wedding, to retire with top flight benefits. Spitzer also attempted to drop sexual assault charges against high-profile defendants, leading a judge to remove him from the case. Survivors of the sexual assault survivors were “dragged through the mud” and “grossly mistreated” by Spitzer for two and a half years, leading two of them to abandon their case.

Spitzer has been involved in an evidence booking scandal, a jailhouse informant scandal, and has defamed a victim of OC’s deadliest mass shooting as retaliation for peaceful protest. Spitzer has also defended a DNA collection program known informally as “Spit and Acquit” that coerces defendants to give up their DNA to law enforcement, a practice the ACLU has called “unconstitutional.”

Pete Hardin is a former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, Deputy District Attorney, Special Assistant United States Attorney, and one of Southern California’s leading litigators running for Orange County District Attorney. Pete entered public service when, in 2005, he earned his commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. A combat veteran, Pete served in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 as a member of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Pete is a member of the Democratic Party.

Orange County’s rapidly changing electorate has led Democrats to now outnumber Republicans in Orange County holding a 4.1% voter registration advantage.