Senator’s Son Gets Slap on Wrist for Homicide

by Project Censored

In Arizona on December 16, 2013, detective Sean Pearce, son of ex-State Senator Russell Pearce, was pursuing a suspect when he crashed into 63- year old John Harding’s SUV. Pearce was driving forty mph over the speed limit in an unmarked car, and the lights and sirens were off. Pearce smashed into Harding at an intersection, which resulted in Harding’s death.  The prosecuting attorney, who represented the city of Glendale, only pressed charges for speeding violations. The judge presiding over this case, Manuel Delgado, sentenced him to defensive-driving school. However, Arizona law states that, “An individual who commits a civil or criminal traffic violation resulting in death or serious physical injury is not eligible to attend a defensive driving school, except that the court may order the individual to attend a defensive driving school in addition to another sentence imposed by the court on an adjudication or admission of the traffic violation.” Judge Delgado called a hearing involving this case on March 11, 2015. He asked the attorneys representing each side why they failed to inform him of the fatality that had resulted in the crash. Both attorneys claimed to have mentioned it during the trials, but Judge Delgado listened to the tapes of the court proceedings and found no mention of this fact. He set another hearing for April 8th, 2015 and said, “I just felt that I was not being given some details that should have been given to me. So obviously, I had some concern about candor in the court.”


Boggioni, Tom. “Arizona Judge Unaware of Fatality When Giving State Senator’s Son a Slap on the Wrist for Speeding.” Raw Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.


“A Quote by Voltaire.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.


Stern, Ray. “Glendale Judge Didn’t Know Sean Pearce Speeding Case Involved a Death.” Valley Fever. N.p., 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.


Student Researcher:  Sarah Rider, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen, PhD, Indian River State College

Ethics Alert

“With great power comes great responsibility” (Voltaire). Often times, the men and women that we trust to hold high offices and influential positions, in government and other corporations, take advantage. We trust them to bring justice and fairness to our country and states, but they only see personal gains and wealth. Some of our leaders are strong, loyal, and honest but too many are not. In this particular case, justice was not served for John Harding because the attorneys neglected their responsibilities. It was in their best interest to let Detective Pearce off easy, and they withheld the vital information of the fatality from the judge.

Celebrities frequently receive special treatment because they are famous or prestigious. Some people of authority tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to a celebrity’s transgression(s), and in return these authority figures might receive some sort of unofficial payment, for example tickets to a show. In the case of Sean Pearce, it seems that the attorneys showed him this special treatment because of his lineage. What other reason could there be for the prosecuting attorney, Bill Montgomery, to not bring felony charges against him? The law in Arizona is clear that if there is a fatality, defensive-driving school alone is not a sufficient penalty, so why would he not bring this fact into trial? It is Montgomery’s job to pursue justice for John Harding and for the city of Glendale; anything short of that is unjust. There might have been mitigating factors and Pearce might be innocent of any felony charge, but the prosecuting attorney did not even attempt to make a case to the judge. It seems as though Montgomery may have turned a blind eye in return for some unknown advantage, because the charges clearly show he did not have his client’s best interest at heart. These questions, and many more like them, heighten the curiosity of the “why” surrounding this situation. Is the judge the only one seeking the truth and justice for a dead citizen and a city that might have potentially corrupt and biased leaders in these professions?

When Judge Delgado discovered that the crash had caused a man to lose his life, he called both attorneys back to court. Both Montgomery and Patrick Gann, the defense attorney, claimed to have told him of the casualty; however, when Delgado listened to the recordings of the trials he found this to be untrue.  The fact that John Harding was not a main point of discussion by either attorney is bewildering. A man is now dead because of the accident, and neither attorney thought it important enough to tell the judge. Montgomery and Gann withheld pertinent information that could have resulted in a more severe sentencing for Pearce. The attorneys are obligated to present all the facts of the case to the judge so that he can deem what is relevant and just. Both Montgomery and Gann knew that if there was a fatality, Pearce would be ineligible for defense-driving school, so they decided to sweep the death under the rug. Cover-ups such as this one, serve only in the best interest of a select few. Pearce may be innocent of any wrong-doing involving the fatality, but the fact that the casualty seems to be a hidden detail is unethical.

These special advantages create a very twisted balance of power. It creates a world where the famous and wealthy can run rampant with no risk of consequence and the weak and poor are the mere means for the powerful. Had the judge not found out about the fatality on his own, the combined effort of the attorneys would have let Pearce off with only a slap on the wrist. It is frightening to think that this type of favoritism could be happening at a much larger scale. The ethical issues raised in this matter point out possible disturbing trends that could be the root cause of much injustice nation-wide.