CHARGES AGAINST ACOSTA DISMISSED
This word just in... sources at the courthouse just told me that the case against Benito Acosta - described variously as a "student activist" by his supporters or "pretend Indian" by his opponents - was dismissed late this afternoon by Judge Kelly MacEachern.
Apparently, as reported earlier by Daily Pilot reporter Alicia Robinson, Costa Mesa's prosecutor Dan Peelman was not sworn in as a public prosecutor, which is a requirement of the state constitution. This procedural gaffe, which had been reported as being described by Peelman to the judge as a "harmless error", toppled this case after more than a year of preparation and nearly a week of testimony.
APPEAL PENDING - MORE LEGAL SPENDING
It's my understanding that there was an appeal filed this morning, which may or may not affect the judge's decision. According to sources at the court house, few knowledgeable observers think will change anything. When you consider the legal fees racked up for at least 5 pre-trial hearings , witness depositions and other billable items, one thing is obvious - the city sure didn't get bang for it's legal buck in this instance.
There are those who think this never should have been brought to trial in the first place, including the Orange County District Attorney's office, which reviewed the circumstances and chose not to prosecute the case. That should have been an alarm bell for officials in our city. Instead, this looks more and more to be about the petulance of the Allan Mansoor-led City Council majority, trying to teach Acosta a lesson for his rudeness before them on several occasions.
THE FEDERAL CASE
Looming on the horizon is the federal civil rights case that will apparently be filed against the city by Acosta's ACLU attorneys. This one has the potential to reach deep into the city coffers and really do some financial damage - all because we have a majority that lacks the maturity and wisdom to effectively manage this city.
So, dear Costa Mesa readers, the next time you fall into a pothole or have to wait longer than you wish for response by a member of Costa Mesa's public safety organizations, thank the majority on the council. They've developed "frittering away money" into an art form!