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Filmmakers received help on a possible box office hit when a Santa Barbara County, Calif., prosecutor agreed to act as a consultant for Alpha Dog, a movie slated to hit theaters next month. Now it’s up to the California Supreme Court to decide whether that prosecutor and the local district attorney’s office can stay on a murder case despite his cooperation with a director making a movie about it. The justices have decided to review a lower court’s decision to recuse prosecutor Ronald Zonen, but let the DA’s office continue on with the case. Hollywood v. Superior Court (People), No. S147954, stems from the murder in 2000 of an alleged drug dealer’s 15-year-old half-brother. About two months ago, the California 2d District Court of Appeal allowed the DA’s office as a whole to stay on but ordered the recusal of Zonen, a deputy DA who supplied filmmakers with boxes of files and commentary about Jesse James Hollywood, a suspect in the killing who fled the country. Though he wasn’t getting paid, Zonen said he hoped the publicity surrounding the film would help bring Hollywood to justice. Hollywood was apprehended last year in Brazil and returned to face trial. James Blatt, Hollywood’s Encino, Calif.-based appellate attorney, said this is a case of first impression, marking the first time a prosecutor released an “entire criminal file” to a film company and consulted on a film while the related case was still pending. “I believe [the Supreme Court] wanted to make a policy decision in reference to recusals, and this case presented a very unique situation, which I feel they desire to address,” Blatt said. Deputy Attorney General David Glassman, who represented the other side at the 2d District, declined to comment. The California Supreme Court took up another recusal case on its own motion involving another Santa Barbara County prosecutor. The 2d District in Haraguchi v. Superior Court (People), No. S148207, unanimously said that though the entire DA’s office did not have to be recused, Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley had a disabling conflict of interest because the self-published crime novel she was promoting, Intoxicating Agent, bore similarities to the rape case at hand. The California Supreme Court has also chosen to step into the controversy over gay marriage by agreeing to decide whether a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional or not. In re Marriage Cases, No. S147999. In a prepared statement, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose city defied state law in 2004 by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, said, “Marriage equality is the major civil rights issue of our time. And the state’s highest court clearly recognizes it should have the final word on the issue in California.” Randy Thomasson, spokesman for Voteyesmarriage.com, a group that opposes same-sex marriage, told The Associated Press that he was disappointed. “If the law ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “This is bad news for marriage and the voters of California who already passed a state law reaffirming that marriage is a natural and beautiful institution between a man and a woman.” Last year, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled that California’s laws restricting marriage to male-female couples violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the state constitution. But by a 2-1 vote, San Francisco’s 1st District Court of Appeal reversed Kramer two months ago, saying it was “rational” for the state Legislature to preserve a definition of marriage that “has existed throughout history and which continues to represent the common understanding of marriage in most other countries and states of our union.”- The Recorder

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