Re: Judge Decided on Station Fire Plea Deal
There are at least four problems with Judge Francis Darigan’s statement regarding the Derderian pleas in the Station Fire case that Marc posted on earlier this afternoon.
Two problems appear in the first two paragraphs of the 7-to-7 report on Judge Darigan’s statement…
Superior Court Associate Justice Francis J. Darigan said this afternoon that he decided to accept a plea in The Station nightclub fire case to spare victims’ families and the state the trauma of criminal trials.1. The Judge says he “approved the terms of the deal”. We know who was on one side of the deal — the Derderian’s lawyers. Who was on the other side? Was the judge negotiating independently, or did he take an intermediate offer being negotiated by the AG and decree it to be the final deal? There are problems in either scenario.
Darigan also acknowledged that he approved the terms of the deal with club co-owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian over the objection of the state Attorney General’s Office.
2. The Judge says he decided to accept the plea “to spare victims’ families and the state the trauma of criminal trials”. But a judge’s job is to apply the law impartially. It is a prosecutor’s job is to decide which cases to bring maximum resources to and which cases to dispose of quickly. Why is the Judge usurping prosecutorial discretion here?
The third and fourth problems aren’t legal issues, but concern what appears to be a disturbing display of judicial arrogance…
He also criticized the Attorney General’s Office for what he called leaking news of the agreement to the press yesterday, calling it unethical….3. Courts have no business trying to hide their actions from the public, unless the rights of people not on trial may be infringed by revealing certain information in open court. So exactly on what basis is Judge Darigan asserting that there should be some sort secrecy regarding this plea deal?
Darigan said he would like the media to focus less on the back-and-forth between the Attorney General’s Office and the court and more on the merits of the plea agreement.
4. And what gives any judge the right to tell the media what they should and shouldn’t be reporting on?