Two prosecutors disciplined after texting deputy during DUI trial

Two prosecutors disciplined after texting deputy during DUI trial

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — 9 Investigates looked into how two local prosecutors were disciplined after they were caught texting, and getting advice from a Volusia County deputy during a DUI trial.

Investigative reporter Karla Ray obtained video from the courtroom in the case that eventually resulted in a not guilty verdict.  The texts were discovered after a public defender spotted body language during the trial.

The sheriff’s deputy involved, Robert Campbell, was given a six-week suspension.  The prosecutors, however, were given just an oral reprimand, which does not go into their personnel file.

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“The prosecutor should've shut that down immediately; it just wasn't appropriate,” WFTV legal analyst and former prosecutor Bill Sheaffer said.

Sheaffer says it’s not unusual for there to be rapport in the courtroom, but an investigation into the deputy’s actions show prosecutors Robert Hill and Jake Westbrook continued to field advice from him until the defendant’s court-appointed attorney flagged the actions to the judge.

“There really shouldn't be any even impression that any courtroom staff would try to help one side or the other, so I certainly hope that's not happening,” Judge Bryan Feigenbaum said in court.