The Lynch/Darigan Inconsistency Continues
In today’s edition, the Projo runs its dueling articles on Patrick Lynch and Bill Harsch, this year’s candidates for Rhode Island Attorney General. Though other issues are discussed, each aricle devotes an ample amount of space to the Station fire and the Derderian trial.
On its face, Attorney General Lynch’s description of the events leading to guilty pleas by the Derderains continues to be different from the version given by Judge Francis Darigan in his final sentencing statement. Here is Attorney General Lynch’s description, current as of today, of how the final deal came about…
Lynch said that about 95 percent of the time, defense lawyers and prosecutors discuss and agree on terms and turn to a judge to approve the deal. But when that doesn’t work out, there are other options. He said in some cases when the prosecution and defense can’t agree, the judge can tell the defendant, if you plea to every count, I’ll give you the following and the state can enter their objection. He said, That’s what happened here.Judge Darigan described a different process in his sentencing statement, which is as about an official a version as is possible…
This Court was well aware that all parties desired to conclude these cases without a trial. As the structure of theses (sic) cases and the issues for the trial became clearer and more crystallized, the Court began to share this opinion.What exactly did the “parties” — which in legal terms usually refers to both sides prosecution and defense — ask the court for, if it wasn’t part of the AG’s office agreeing to deal? (Also, it is interesting to note that both Judge Darigan and AG Lynch make a point to emphasize that the state reserved a right to object to the final outcome).
As the date for the trial approached, the Defendants clearly indicated to the Court and the Attorney General’s Office that they wished to change their pleas.
It was at this time that the parties asked the Court if it would accept a change in the pleas and impose sentences to which the State, if it wished, could object.
I can come up with three ways to reconcile the disparate versions…
- When Judge Darigan talks about the “parties” asking for the Court to accept a change in pleas, he is referring to some technical legal procedure that is different from what the plain English might indicate. (But then what was the state formally asking for?)
- Judge Darigan was horribly imprecise with his description of events, e.g. he said “parties” when he really meant “Defendants”. (But then why tell us that the state reserved its right to object in the same sentence?)
- Patrick Lynch is telling a different version of events from what Judge Darigan experienced.