OAKLAND — A prosecutor Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price placed on leave during the early days of her administration is back at work, his union representative has confirmed.
Prosecutor John Brouhard returned to the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse on Tuesday, after spending more than a year on administrative leave. He is the last of the seven prosecutors Price sidelined after she took office in January 2023 to be brought back.
The shakeup came amid Price’s first few weeks in office, which saw a wave of firings, departures and job reassignments, as the new DA sought to undo what we called a “hot mess” left by her predecessor, Nancy O’Malley.
Brouhard and the other six prosecutors put on leave have not faced any official findings of misconduct or discipline, said Matt Finnegan, an attorney with the local union representing Alameda County prosecutors. He confirmed Brouhard’s return in an interview with this news organization.
Brouhard follows longtime prosecutors Connie Campbell, John Mifsud and Brian Owens in being ordered back to the office. The trio returned to work in mid-October after roughly nine months on leave but were each told at the time that investigations into their potential misconduct remained open.
The other three prosecutors placed on leave in January 2023 got jobs elsewhere, including with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the Napa County District Attorney’s Office.
While an official reason for putting Brouhard on leave was never announced, he and another prosecutor put on leave, Colleen McMahon, were called out by Price in 2021 for using county resources “to gain an unfair advantage” against her campaign to unseat O’Malley in 2018. Price’s complaint stemmed from allegations that the two used staff emails to help O’Malley’s successful re-election.
The Fair Political Practices Commission, a state elections watchdog, later said there was “insufficient evidence” that any Alameda County prosecutors violated a state government code prohibiting an independent expenditure committee from coordinating with a candidate, in this case O’Malley.
Brouhard has prosecuted some of the county’s most notorious cases in recent years. He was on the team that won a guilty verdict against Mark Estrada, the Oakland man who fatally shot Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger in 2015. He also successfully prosecuted the death penalty case against Darnell Williams Jr., who killed an 8-year-old Oakland girl in in summer 2013, and a 22-year-old man in Berkeley eight weeks later.
Finnegan has assailed Price’s decision to sideline the prosecutors as politically motivated and a waste of taxpayer money — going so far as to call the whole thing “a sham.” Last fall, he estimated the county’s tab in either investigating the prosecutors or in paying their salaries and benefits while they were on leave at more than $1.6 million.
Finnegan said that Brouhard did not wish to comment, “since the matter is not fully resolved.”
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not reply to a message seeking comment sent Friday.