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DA vs. Noah Phillips: Office files motion against prosecutor running for DA seat

Noah Phillips, a deputy prosecutor with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, speaks to a crowd at the VFW Post 67 in Sacramento on April 29. Phillips, 45, is challenging incumbent DA Anne Marie Schubert in the June 5 primary.
Noah Phillips, a deputy prosecutor with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, speaks to a crowd at the VFW Post 67 in Sacramento on April 29. Phillips, 45, is challenging incumbent DA Anne Marie Schubert in the June 5 primary. lsterling@sacbee.com

Misconduct allegations are mounting against Sacramento district attorney candidate and county prosecutor Noah Phillips -- this time from his own office.

A rare District Attorney's motion against one of its own contains copies of emails from Phillips' email server that appear to show that Phillips told defense attorneys he planned to dismiss special circumstance allegations against a defendant in a 2016 murder case.

The emails, excavated by a DA's tech staffer, are part of a motion opposing Phillips' request to delay a Friday hearing in Sacramento Superior Court. The motion also said Phillips freelanced the dismissal offer without the authorization or knowledge of his supervisor, Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard.

Phillips, who is running against District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, says the allegations first made by defense attorney Michael Wise are a politically motivated offensive to derail his campaign with weeks to go before the June 5 election.

Wise in April filed charges of prosecutorial misconduct against Phillips over an alleged bargain between Phillips and murder defendant Tiwan Greenwade.

Phillips allegedly offered Greenwade a sweetheart manslaughter deal if he testified against his three co-defendants at trial in the 2016 murder of Ashok Kumar of Sacramento -- a deal allegedly helped along by a seven-page crib sheet of questions Phillips would later ask Greenwade on the witness stand.

Wise's client was co-defendent Raghua Sharma.

In the DA's motion, Norgaard stated he is the only one who can approve such offers and that he knew nothing of Phillips' plan.

The DA's motion also alleges Greenwade and his girlfriend reportedly discussed the alleged manslaughter deal waiting for Greenwade if he turned on the others.

Phillips has repeatedly denied the misconduct claims and allegations of a secret deal and said he will be exonerated with a fair hearing. Friday will likely be his chance.

He's no longer on the murder case -- supervising prosecutor Dawn Bladet has it now. The DA's motion said the state Attorney General's office rejected Phillips' attempt to have state prosecutors take over the case, deciding there is no conflict in keeping the case with the DA's office.

DA's officials in their pleading say the potential collateral damage -- the fate of Phillips' law license, possible disciplinary action, even criminal charges -- are immaterial.

"The issues to be resolved in this hearing are limited to whether a new trial or dismissal in this murder case is warranted due to intentional prosecutorial misconduct at trial," the motion read.

Greenwade's new attorney, Kenneth Rosenfeld, seemed skeptical of the allegations against Phillips.

"The truth usually resides in the middle. I think there's a lot of distraction around this case," Rosenfeld said outside Sacramento Superior Court Judge Curtis Fiorini's fourth floor courtroom at Sacramento County Courthouse. "From what I can see, this case is all gray. It's 100 shades of gray."

Rosenfeld saved much of his skepticism for District Attorney's claims that Phillips offered to drop the special circumstance allegations Greenwade faced at trial without a sign-off from assistant chief deputy Norgaard.

"I find it very hard to believe it was a rogue DA who did this without the agreement of supervisors," Rosenfeld said, adding the office's culture would make such a move unlikely. "(Prosecutors) don't independently dismiss special circumstances. I find that (claim) curious at a minimum.

"This case will lie on interpretation," he continued. "Exchanging emails -- that's not enough for me to cast aspersions on either side."

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert defends her office's handling of the inquire into the March 18, 2018, police shooting death of Stephon Clark.

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