Judge sending Patrick Harran to trial on #SheriSangji case, @cenmag story by @mmtorrice to come, bkgd @cenblogs ow.ly/ksMNHIf you told me this was going to happen, close to 4-and-a-half years later, I would have never believed it.
— Jyllian Kemsley (@jkemsley) April 26, 2013
Follow-up tweet and a good reminder from Dr. Kemsley:
"Keep in mind that prelim threshold is not high--"more likely than not" vs "beyond reasonable doubt"Updates as they happen.
UPDATE 4:24 PM Eastern: C&EN's article by Michael Torrice on today's preliminary hearing decision, including this interesting statement from the trial judge:
In court today, Judge Lisa B. Lench heard brief oral arguments from both sides, first on the issue to dismiss and then on the motion to reduce charges. She commented that the issues presented in the case were interesting and novel. She also said that Harran was unique compared with the usual defendants moving through the criminal justice system.Dollars to donuts, there's gonna be a plea. But what can the Harran defense team offer? Or do they think they can win in front of a jury?
UPDATE 4:32 PM Eastern: The AP article, no new items there. The Los Angeles Times article, by Kim Christensen* has the quote from Prof. Harran's lawyer, Thomas O'Brien:
"We fully expect to vindicate Professor Harran,” his attorney, Thomas O’Brien, said after the hearing. “This was an accident, a tragic accident. We have always maintained that, as the University of California has, and we expect him to be vindicated.”The dictionary definition of "vindicate" is worth a look.
UPDATE 8:18 PM Eastern: Patch.com has some rather remarkable quotes from the hearing, including one from Judge Lench:
"This is not the run of the mill case, not the run of the mill crime," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench said, adding that the death of Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji was "an incredibly tragic event." [snip]
..."This was a tragic accident and someone died ... a horrible death," O'Brien said. "But that doesn't make an accident a crime."
Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum countered that Harran acted as both "supervisor and an employer" of Sangji. It was the professor who made the hiring decisions for his lab, and payment for assistants came from his budget, the prosecutor said.
It was Harran's responsibility to train Sanji and "make sure all appropriate regulations are followed," Hum said. The defendant "doesn't have to know his conduct violates the law" to be held responsible for safety violations, the prosecutor argued.
"He knew he was supposed to train her ... and he chose not to train her," Hum alleged.
After Lench refused to dismiss the charges, O'Brien put forward an argument to lower the charges to misdemeanors.
Harran is "not the typical defendant," the defense attorney said, adding that felony convictions could have a negative effect on his client's work in research. The prosecutor, though, alleged Harran's behavior was felonious.
"Sheri Sangji died, and she died a horrible death," he said. "And the defendant needs to be punished for that."*The Los Angeles Times reporter that has covered the issue since the beginning.