DA In Eric Garner Case Recuses Himself More Than Any Other City Prosecutor

January 20, 2015 | Rhett Jones

According to an investigation by DNAinfo, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan has recused himself due to personal ties to cases more than any other D.A. in the city. Donovan is most prominently known for being the D.A. in charge of the grand jury case that decided not to indict an officer who placed Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold. Remarkably, more than half of the applications for a special prosecutor to take over a criminal case due to a conflict of interest over the past two years came from Donovan — 23 out of 44.

Donovan’s explanation for the high number of requests is that he is simply extra careful, explaining in a statement, ““This is done out of an abundance of caution to prevent not only a clear conflict but even the appearance of impropriety.” According to DNAinfo the requests broke down into three categories:

Five were because the defendants were his longtime pals, campaign supporters or children of political donors, records show …

Donovan also requested nine recusals because the defendant was related to a member of his staff …

In another nine applications for recusals, Donovan frequently said there was a conflict of interest because either a staff member was the complainant, the victim or the witness in a criminal case being handled by his office.

When a D.A. is granted permission to recuse themselves from a case, most often a special prosecutor from a different borough is assigned by the judge. Generally the special prosecutor is less likely to have personal ties in a region they are not from. That is why some state politicians have called to assign special prosecutors to all cases involving police brutality. Those advocates believe that prosecutors are far too likely to have personal ties with officers in their region.

Donovan recently announced his plans to run for the congressional seat that formally belonged to Rep. Michael Grimm. Grimm resigned from office in December due to a failure to exercise an “abundance of caution”; he pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion.

(Photo: SI Live)