Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No ruling yet on Santana, Vasquez

by Tom Nadeau

At the last formal Yuba County Superior Court hearing in early June on the epic ethics case, People v. Santana, Vasquez, Judge John Darlington said he would probably rule within a few weeks whether he would dismiss it, or let it go to trial.

But here it is late July and the retired Nevada County judge has uttered nary a word on his decision on the motion he took under advisement in the first week in June.

The parties haven't said much, either.

“We have not yet received a ruling from Judge Darlington,” defendant Jesse Santana confirmed Monday.

Back in June, Darlington declined to give a date-certain deadline for his ruling, but he did set a hearing on the motion for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 8.

Yuba-Sutter attorneys Santana and David Vasquez were indicted by the Yuba County grand jury two years ago, based on evidence District Attorney Patrick McGrath presented alleging that the two lawyers had acted unethically in negotiating a financial settlement between tow truck operator Joseph Griesa and an underage female employee – “SA” – who claimed he had allegedly harassed her sexually.

The main charge is bribery ...

The main charge in Santana, Vasquez is bribery. It raises serious and intriguing questions about how lawyers can do business – business that frequently involves out-of-court settlements.

First filed two years ago, this constantly expanding criminal case has not yet reached the arraignment stage, much less trial.

In the interim, Griesa went to trial on the harassment allegations and was convicted of some, but not all of the charges. People v. Griesa ended in a three-way split:

He was found guilty on 10 charges relating to: annoying a child; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; unlawful detention; failure to report earnings, and; failure to pay taxes.

He was found innocent of four counts of improper sex-related counts

The jury hung on the remaining charges and a mistrial was declared on charges of indecent exposure, intimidating a witness, sexual battery, false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon.

Griesa was to stand trial on those counts in early June, but he decided at the last moment to accept sentencing on his previous convictions rather than chance more convictions on the unresolved charges.

Visiting Judge Ersel Edwards scheduled Griesa’s final sentencing for 11 a.m. Aug. 20

As for the long-pending Santana, Vasquez matter, whichever way Darlington rules – dismiss, or not – his decision will probably wend its way up to the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Sacramento, since both sides are expected to appeal if they lose.


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