By Michele Chadwick, Mathew Seibert, & Diana Quirarte
IRVINE, CA – Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s recent comments and behavior have led to loss of political support, an investigation and calls for resignation from a myriad of local and national organizations.
A video of Spitzer saying the N-word surfaced amid the current scandal. He allegedly said this in a recent meeting with the Iranian American Bar Association. Spitzer repeats the slur even though the text on his slides says “N-word.”
During a meeting regarding whether or not to pursue the death penalty for Jamon Rayon Buggs, a Black accused, Spitzer allegedly inquired about the race of the man’s previous girlfriends and said he “knows many Black people who enhance their status by only dating ‘White women.’”
Spitzer claims that this is inaccurate. What he actually said, he told The Times, was that he has seen Black men date white women to “improve their stature in the community.”
Spitzer has also made racist remarks during court.
He defended his actions by saying, “I am not perfect, but an inartful comment during an hours-long debate in a double murder case is not reflective of my core beliefs or the years I have spent fighting to make our society more equitable and our communities safe for everyone,” Spitzer said in a statement.
The Orange County’s Office of Independent Review (OIR) is investigating the statements about that Spitzer made when deciding whether to seek the death penalty against Buggs, as well as complaints about the DA’s office’s handling of its victim’s rights obligations under Marsy’s Law.
The OIR director, Sergio Perez. said, “We are investigating these allegations…the allegations are quite serious because they get to the heart…of the criminal justice system’s commitment to treat everybody fairly, regardless of who they are.
“And whenever there’s a question about that kind of treatment, then we run the danger of a crisis in confidence in the criminal justice system. We want to be sure decisions are being made for the right reasons in the right ways,” added Perez.
“The goal is to ensure people have an objective and transparent accounting of what took place,” he said.
Spitzer promises full cooperation.
“I am the one who originally insisted on expanding the Office of Independent’s oversight to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Of course we will fully cooperate with any investigation,” Spitzer said in a statement to Voice of OC.
“There is absolutely zero truth to the allegations,” he added.
The Thurgood Marshall Bar Association, a bar association committed to connect, support, and increase the Black legal community in Orange County, released a statement about Spitzer calling “on all persons invested in our collective future to take swift action to address racism in Orange County.”
The Thurgood Marshall Bar Association states, “All leaders are expected to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
As a result, the group called for “committing to help ensure the person leading criminal prosecution in Orange County will never again treat Black defendants in the manner that Spitzer’s office has done so..[and] for the resignation of DA Spitzer and call on the Attorney General to investigate systemic and institutional racism within the policies and practices of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.”