Friday, June 4, 2010

Santana judge nixes immunity;
ponders defense move to dismiss

Waiting to hear what Judge John Darlington’s latest action would be in People v. Jesse Santana and David Vasquez, case #08-825, took longer than learning what it was.

Defense attorney Michael Barrette arrived 30 minutes late in Yuba County Superior Court Department #4 , while Darlington was done ruling on two critical defense motions in 20 minutes.

Kibbitzers in the jam-packed gallery speculated that Barrette had been unavoidably delayed by a reported traffic jam on one of the two bridges between Yuba City and Marysville.

The rulings, one by one...

First, Darlington denied a defense motion that he grant witness Joseph Griesa some form of immunity – transactional or use – to get him to explain under oath what, if anything, authorities may have promise him to get a grand jury testimony to indict attorneys Santana and Vasquez on felony charges.

The charges against the two respected Yuba-Sutter lawyers arise from allegations regarding their roles as attorneys for the parties in a lawsuit that an employee – “SA” – had threatened to file against Griesa.

Santana and Vasquez are accused of breaking the law and violated legal ethics by arranging a $100,000 payment to settle a teenage girl’s sexual harassment lawsuit.

What makes this case so interesting to lawyers – at least seven were present in the gallery yesterday – is such settlements are common in plaintiff-defendant negotiations.

Darlington cited one provision of the US Constitution and several prior precedent-setting appellate rulings in explaining why he was denying the defense motion.

In short, Darlington appeared to be saying that granting such immunity would put the court on the edge of a legal precipice, and he was “unwilling to step off that cliff.”

Griesa and his Sacramento attorney Kenneth Rosenfeld were present Thursday. Rosenfeld pressed Darlington to clarify whether this ruling meant Griesa would no longer be needed in this case.

Darlington excused Griesa, but that excusal did not end Griesa’s legal problems.

Griesa faces a second Yuba County criminal trial, based on allegations that he had acted improperly with under-aged girl employees at his Mitchell Towing Service.

A trial on that separate but related case, People v. Griesa, #08-458, is scheduled to start Tuesday, June 8.

Retired Nevada County Judge Ersel Edwards was appointed to preside over that trial, but Griesa filed a motion May 21 to disqualify him. It is not yet known how that motion fared. That issue may be dealt with Tuesday.

The second issue Darlington addressed was a defense motion to dismiss Santana, Vasquez entirely.

That constantly expanding case was first filed two years ago and has so far not even reached arraignment, much less trial.

So humongous has the legal paperwork been in Santana, Vasquez that Darlington Thursday called it “the Moby Dick” of legal cases.

Darlington, also retired from the Nevada bench, said he was not yet ready to rule on that issue and took it under advisement.

He set a no-later-than, date-certain hearing on the ruling for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 8.

Whichever way Darlington goes – dismiss, or not dismiss – it is unlikely to end this perpetual motion case. Either way, the losing side is expected to take it up to the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Sacramento.

From there, who knows?


Blogger blastoff420 said...

The assault on Jesse and David by the arguably corrupt State of California continues well into its second year, with no end in sight. What does the state want for theses two accomplished men, there vary blood? Something tells me this case has nothing to do with justice.

July 13, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

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