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Manslaughter Charges Dropped in Motorcycle Death

Judge Deems Witnesses Not Credible


Thursday, July 4, 2013
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Judge Jean Dandona dismissed manslaughter charges against Francisco Rodriguez, one of two defendants charged with the death of their mutual friend, Raul Ibarra, in a motorcycle accident that occurred this March near the Santa Barbara Tennis Club. According to the prosecution’s case, the three young men were racing one another on their motorcycles, hitting speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour, when Ibarra crossed the road’s double yellow lines and crashed into an oncoming Lexus. Had they not been racing, the prosecution contended, Ibarra would not have been killed.

Defense attorney Ron Bamieh petitioned Dandona to dismiss the manslaughter charge, arguing that two witnesses who claimed to have seen the three men racing were not credible. Dandona granted Bamieh’s request.

In a press release sent afterward, Bamieh noted that the father of the victim had opposed the prosecution of his son’s friends. He also reiterated his previous contention that the defendants would not have been prosecuted had they not been Latinos. Rodriguez had insisted that he and his friends were not racing, that he was, in fact, 50 yards ahead of his friends at the time of the accident, and that the highest speed he’d achieved was 45 miles an hour.

Bamieh, a former prosecutor from Ventura County, had blasted the judge herself, claiming she failed to protect him and his chief investigator from threats allegedly made by Santa Barbara Police detective Jaycee Hunter. Dandona stated she did not believe that Bamieh ever felt threatened and rejected his demand that she declare a mistrial. He then accused the judge of calling him a liar, and demanded a mistrial again on the grounds that he could not effectively represent his client in front of judge who regarded him as “unethical.”

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Ron Bamieh and Christine Voss did a great Job on this case. It's too bad Judge George Eskin couldn't or worse, wouldnt spare the tax payers the hundreds of thousands of dollars it cost to exposé yet another really bad criminal case filing by Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley. I'm sure DDa Sanford "Sandy" Horowitz did the best he could, but when the prosecutions case is not sufficient, the DA needs a Judge like Eskin at trial too, not just at the prelim!

I both compliment and criticize Judge Dandona, who made a correct decision on the ultimate issue and did the right thing in granting the defense motion for acquittal (not dismissal) under the authority of Penal Code Section 1118, however, the Judge erred in ruling that she did not believe Mr. Bamieh and that she believed Jaycee Hunter.

DarrylGenis (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2013 at 6:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Also, the author of this legal news story made a significant reporting error:

The case against the defendant is not 'dismissed' upon the court granting a Penal Code 1118 motion, rather, the court takes the case from the jury and Acquits the defendant:

Penal Code 1118.1

“In a case tried before a jury, the court on motion of the defendant or on its own motion, at the close of the evidence on either side and before the case is submitted to the jury for decision, shall order the entry of a judgment of acquittal of one or more of the offenses charged in the accusatory pleading if the evidence then before the court is insufficient to sustain a conviction of such offense or offenses on appeal. If such a motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the evidence offered by the prosecution is not granted, the defendant may offer evidence without first having reserved that right.”

The Independent made this very same mistake when the reported the disposition of the disposition of count two (Driving with a BAC of .08% or more) in the DeNunzio case when Judge Rigali found DeNunzio Not Guilty of that charge (in spite of a defective DOJ blood result of .09%)

When will reporters start inserting accuracy into their legal stories?

Sent from my iPad

DarrylGenis (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2013 at 7:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks, Mr. Genis. What's the legal distinction, distinction as it affects the defendant, that is, between an acquittal and a dismissal?

at_large (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2013 at 9:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How did this ever go to trial?

Rinconer (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A dismissal means the case was dismissed. It can be because there is no jurisdiction, or because of witness unavailability or a variety of reasons having little to do with guilt or innocence. An acquittal (what happened in this case) is a finding that the person is Not Guilty. It is not a technicality causing dismissal. There is a BIG difference, and one would expect an experienced journalist with years of experience covering courtroom proceedings to understand and appreciate the difference.

DarrylGenis (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2013 at 12:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So would the people in the Lexus file against the other two bikers or against the family of the killed biker for damages and injuries?

dou4now (anonymous profile)
July 5, 2013 at 5:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

They would (and probably already have) make a claim against the deceased man's insurance company. And if he was driving without insurance, then probably their own uninsured motorist policy would cover their damages and injuries.

SBmama (anonymous profile)
July 5, 2013 at 6:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee couldn't have seen this coming from 4500000 miles away. This City, the DA and the COPs make some funky decisions about what to pursue and what not to. Unfortunately, they all seem to be like lemmings going over the cliff. Thanks for the legal definitions. Many of us non legal beagles wonder what the @#$%@$% is going on.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
July 6, 2013 at 12:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Genis Al Capone called, he wants his suit back.

Vraiment (anonymous profile)
July 6, 2013 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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