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.”
Tom Boggioni, “Arizona Judge Unaware of Fatality When Giving State Senator’s Son a Slap on the Wrist for Speeding,” Raw Story, March 22, 2015, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/arizona-judge-unaware-of-fatality-when-giving-state-senators-son-a-slap-on-the-wrist-for-speeding/comments/ – disqus.
Ray Stern, “Glendale Judge Didn’t Know Sean Pearce Speeding Case Involved a Death,” Phoenix New Times, March 20, 2015, http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2015/03/glendale_judge_didnt_know_sean_pearce_speeding_case_involved_death.php.
Student Researcher: Sarah Rider (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, PhD (Indian River State College)