Commentary by Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer:
“A previous criminal probe involving officials in three school districts in San Diego County has expanded to now include 15 who were indicted for 232 felony and misdemeanor charges related to bribery and conspiracy in an ongoing ‘pay for play’ corruption case in connection with construction contracts entered into by district officials was reported by the UT News on January 7, 2013. The case involves campaign contributions, tickets to plays and sporting events as well as lavish meals, etc. in exchange for multi-million dollar school construction bond contracts.
At least one defense counsel was reported to be discussing a severance of the multiple cases so all of the defendants are not prosecuted together. The public’s interest in receiving information regarding the criminal case and the defendants’ right to due process and to have a trial free of adverse publicity has to be balanced by the court, with such a claim likely to be made by at least one of the defense counsel. The court will also have to manage this complex case with over a dozen defense counsel seeking to make a series of arguments and motions on behalf of their respective clients. Also, this case will no doubt proceed over many months, and here will be some defendants who will enter guilty or nolo contender pleas (plea in which one declines to admit or dispute the charges); it is even possible immunity may be given by the prosecution to some of the offenders if they have not done so already in helping to build their case. In spite of all of the allegations and innuendos, one always needs to be cognizant of the fact a person must be deemed innocent until proven otherwise.”