Former Second District Chief of Staff Devin Cotter and Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce.
Any charges that may be levied against Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce or her former chief of staff, Devin Cotter, stemming from a June 3 incident will again be decided by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The decision was confirmed through an email from Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert in a response confirming an inquiry into whether an investigation into domestic violence charges was being undertaken by his office. Haubert said that he was sending the case back to the LA County DA, so his office could avoid any perceived conflicts of interest of their own.
Haubert said his recusal was based on the possible appearance of a conflict of interest as Pearce votes on the city prosecutor’s budget.
“As one of nine members of the City Council, a person could believe that such budgetary power could influence a charging decision or case settlement decision. There is no clear test for when a prosecutor has an ‘appearance of a conflict’ and reasonable people could have different opinions in this case,” Haubert said in an email to the Post. “However, I believe the public interest is best served by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office handling the matter to prevent even the possibility that any decision related to Ms. Pearce will be made on any basis other than the facts of the case.”
The case was originally referred to the district attorney’s office in June but the DA found insufficient evidence for felony charges and handed the case back down to the city level where Haubert’s office was given the lead on the case.
In the early hours of June 3, Pearce’s car was found parked in a center median area of the 710 Freeway near the Golden Shore exit where both Pearce and Cotter were detained by California Highway Patrol officers while they investigated a potential domestic violence case.
Both have also alleged “inappropriate behavior” and “potential conflicts of interest” against each other, which the district attorney’s Public Integrity Division is currently investigating
Long Beach police officers were called to the scene and Pearce was given a field sobriety test, which she passed, before being driven home by a friend. Later that morning Cotter was arrested near Pearce’s home and was arrested for public intoxication and for an unrelated $50,000 warrant for a previous DUI conviction from 2014.
In subsequent statements Pearce has said that she is the victim of domestic violence but did not specify that Cotter was the perpetrator. Cotter, through his attorney, has denied that he had committed domestic violence against Pearce.
Haubert’s email stated that the misdemeanor review of the case involving Pearce including any future prosecution will now rest with the district attorney’s office. He cautioned that this should not be interpreted as any charges being imminent, but just that the district attorney will have exclusive jurisdiction over the case.
Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz__LB on Twitter.
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