Judge Overturns San Diego Guilty Verdict

by TChris

It’s rare (too rare) for a federal judge to second-guess a jury’s guilty verdict, but Judge Jeffrey Miller disagreed with a jury's decision that the government proved Michael Zucchet’s guilt on seven counts of fraud and extortion. Judge Miller yesterday acquitted the former San Diego councilman of those charges, concluding that the government failed to prove Zucchet’s guilt. Judge Miller ordered a new trial on two other charges.

Another former councilman, Ralph Inzunza, wasn’t so fortunate.

Inzunza was sentenced to 21 months for his role in the scheme to exchange money for an effort to repeal the law banning touching between dancers and patrons at strip clubs.

Lobbyist Lance Malone received a 36 month sentence, a considerable improvement on his guideline sentencing range of 51 to 63 months.

Malone's lawyer, Dominic Gentile, has said Malone was wrongfully convicted in the corruption trial by a cynical jury that was improperly influenced by San Diego's political scandals.

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    Re: Judge Overturns San Diego Guilty Verdict (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:59 PM EST
    It's a stupid law to begin with. Certainly not one to lose your career over. Welcome to Amerika's Finest City. A bastion of red voters in a blue state.

    Re: Judge Overturns San Diego Guilty Verdict (none / 0) (#2)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:00 PM EST
    Talk about your activist judges! I can see ordering a new trial if there were grounds in the original, but to declare someone innocent by overriding a jury of their peers, and second guessing why the jury found them guilty, that isn't a judge's place. And as far as deviating below the guidlines for the guilty guy; he's not someone who didn't know the law, he's a politician who makes laws, knew the law and STILL broke the law. Like they say about drunk drivers, if he got caught this time imagine how many times he did it before and didn't get caught. People who have the money, education, training and position to know the law should have the book thrown at them. It is poor, ignorant, underprivileged people who we should have compassion for.

    Re: Judge Overturns San Diego Guilty Verdict (none / 0) (#3)
    by chemoelectric on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:00 PM EST
    I don't agree with Sailor's comments above. It would be one thing for a judge to convict by overruling a jury—that would be against our principles. But a judge acquitting by overruling a jury is being professional about your work. That's not 'activism', it's doing your job. I'm no lawyer, but the right to trial by a jury of peers surely is the right to be acquitted by (usually professionally unqualified) peers, not the right to be convicted by peers. Conviction by peers is simply the risk you take. I mean, really, who wants a right to be convicted, when you can save everyone the trouble and just plead guilty?