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District Attorney Choosing NOT to Prosecute

Original post made by Concerned Resident, Gunn High School, on Nov 8, 2006

Did anyone else hear that due to the politics of the issue, the district attorney is choosing NOT to prosecute the teacher and stanford employee who were cited for contributing to the delinquincy of a minor? Apparantly, they are taking some type of poll to determine whether the intoxicated teens who were picked up by their parents were upset and want the parents cited...when did this become policy?

Comments (18)

Posted by Parent of teens
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 8, 2006 at 10:51 am

Since the two have already been tried and found guilty in this Forum, I am personally delighted that it appears that the parents of those who are involved in this matter are the ones who are now going to be invovled in deciding the fate of the parents of the host.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Nov 8, 2006 at 11:00 am

Aside from whether they are guilty or not, which should be decided in the courts, Parent of teens, are you saying if the parents say they don't care it should be acceptable to have a party and let teens get drunk at your house (not saying this is what happened), but in general?

Posted by Parent of teens
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 8, 2006 at 11:40 am

No I am not saying that at all. What I mean is that there has been a lot said in this Forum and already in many people's opinion the couple have been found guilty. I have seen many comments from parents of all age groups, many people in the community and some of those teens at the party. As far as I know, I haven't heard from the parents of those who attended the party. These parents are the ones that have been affected (directly or indirectly), they know what the facts were before the party (or should have had a good idea of what their kids were up to) and know what they found when they got there to take their (drunk?) kids home. Some were even supposed to sleep over and drive home the next day. These people certainly deserve to have a say in whether they think their kids were aided and abetted in their kids delinquency or even if they felt their kids were delinquent. The rest of us don't know the facts and although we are all entitled to our opinions and voice them here, it is not our business whether the citation should progress into prosecution (or whatever the legal lingo is).

Posted by Parent of teens
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 8, 2006 at 11:51 am


On re-reading your comment and my reply I don't think I answered your concerns adequately. If the parents of the attendee at the party knew what was happening and it was as bad as reports suggest, then they are probably as guilty of contributing to delinquency of minors as the hosting parents. The probability of where the guests obtained the alcohol from is a question they should be asked as well as knowing where their kids were and how they were getting home. Apart from the ethical points involved in this, I am sure that the drivers' car insurance was in the name of the parents and any accident as a result of this party would involve their own policies, all points to the fact that they are also responsible to some degree. You do realise of course that it is illegal for a young driver under 18 to be driving after 11.00 p.m. and to drive anyone under the age of 21. So if any of this had been part of the plans, then this would have been breaking the law regardless of whether there was any alcohol involved. For all these reasons plus the fact that there are so many unknowns in this case, the people more involved have more of a say than the rest of us. It doesn't mean that if these people don't care, nothing should happen, it does mean that they know more than us and should be interviewed also. Then the DA can make an informed decision. I wouldn't want him (or her) to make a decision without knowing these facts. Would you?

Posted by Sam
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 8, 2006 at 12:58 pm

It seems to me that the Santa Clara DA's office made a wise use of their powers of prosecutorial charging discretion. If the couple decided to fight the charges, the DA would probably have to subject the under-age party goers to more unwanted publicity, and further drag the name of an elementary school teacher through the mud, which would no doubt impact the kids she teaches. For what? For gettting a conviction on a misdemenor carrying a penalty of a fine of no more than $2500 dollars or no more than a year in jail. Do you think a Palo Alto parent, teacher and 1st time offender would get a sentencing recommendation from the judge for a year in jail even IF she were convicted, which is not a certainty to begin with?
Maybe they weren't robots over at the DA's office, and realized that this couple will probably never host a party for their kids again, and have already suffered enough.

Posted by Sam
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 8, 2006 at 1:00 pm

strike "sentencing recommendation" and replace it with just "a sentence of" from that. I meant that itI wish you could edit your postings on this! Maybe I should just proofread more carefully...

Posted by Sam
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 8, 2006 at 1:13 pm

Another thing to consider is this:
My understanding that it is generally considered the ethical obligation of the DA not to charge a person if they feel they would not win the case. So, based on the information they have, perhaps they didn't think they could win.

That's what I remember from law school, but if I'm wrong, please correct me.

Posted by mm
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2006 at 9:33 pm

I'm the parent of a teenage girl who went to a party a few years ago and ended up drunk and at Stanford Hospital. She had a very high level of alcohol. I've learned more about the dangers of alcohol and the teenage brain than I ever thought I would. The parents were not at home at the party my daughter attended. I can't imagine how parents can host a party for so many children and not bear responsibiity for something the "let" happen. Thank goodness that their were no hospital visits that night or car accidents.

Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 8, 2006 at 10:50 pm

Isn't it pretty common to ask if someone wants to "press charges"? The prosecution won't get anywhere without the cooperation of witnesses (assuming the charges are contested). A trial means dragging this out, cross-examining kids who don't want to testify and don't want to be involved. So I see the logic in this decision, and I'm sure it's also b/c of the fact no one got hurt so it stays a misdemeanor. (Garth Li's accident this summer though - an obvious felony or two there somewhere...)

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 9, 2006 at 12:17 pm

This is very interesting news. We will now be watching to be sure the law is applied equally to others caught by the police in this city.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 9, 2006 at 1:23 pm

one more thing - SOMEONE (neighbors, presumably) thought this party was out of hand and minors were getting drunk, etc., and called police --- that's how the police must have been alerted in the first place. Can't they testify as witnesses(even if the parents and students involved want the citation to go away, naturally)?

Posted by LA Law
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2006 at 2:35 pm

They could call the police, but I'm sure the DA is imagining the scenario going in front of a jury without the cooperation of the kids and parents and it didn't seem too appealing. They could subpoena the kids and parents, but if they were forced to be there, they probably wouldn't make for very good witnesses.
Remember, a DA's office has limited resources. Would you rather have them get a violent sex offender off the streets or someone who once hosted a party where alcohol was serveed to minors?

Posted by DJ
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 9, 2006 at 5:57 pm

If that couple is not charged, it will be a complete joke. As a previous comment stated, it will be a double standard unless others are allowed the same release. Teenage drinking is illegal - period. And a teacher who knowingly allows ANY drinking by teenagers @ a party held in her home should be terminated. The woman is both irresponsible & foolish. By allowing underage drinking @ a party held in her home, she contributed to the delinquency of minors, & endangered their health & person. What if the police had not broken up that party, & one of those teenagers was involved in an accident? I guess I should add "lucky" to the list of adjectives for her, but she should still be fired. Immediately!

Posted by LA Law
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2006 at 6:25 pm

Getting fired and getting prosecuted are 2 different things. This thread was about the decision not to prosecute. Remember they probably make decisions like that all the time - you just don't hear about it.

a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 9, 2006 at 7:02 pm

#####LIKE a thought I pointed a few day earlier in a post, "I" firmly believe if this case were in East Palo Alto those prents would have been prosecuted to the limit. Just they way it is in P>C Paly

You mean to tell me all thse people that are sticking up for these parents, and they have a right to, feel it was okay for their kids to drink at this party because they new that their Johnny or Suussy, even though they had been drinking a litte, would never get into a car with someone who had been drinking, I mean kids and adults never lose good judgement when drinking right. And of course not to big a chance to take with a child life, like the one who wrapped his one around Safeways parking lot, WONDER WHAT HIS PARENTS WOULD SAY ABOUT ALL Of THIS!!!
NO YOU ARE NOT GOING TO STOP TEENAGE, ADULT DRINKING, but parents need to stop making this personal attack on Swqaggerty, she is good person who amde a misate okay, she will LEARN FROM IT~!!!HER BIG PROBLEM AND IT IS BIG, NOW LIES WITH SACRAMENTO PROFFESSION ON CREDENTILING PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES. REMEMEBER EDUCATION AND FAMILIY VALUES AND DISCIPLINE STARTS AT HOME!!!!! As far as Meltzer, you to are entilted to opinion and they are valued but really, until you have you own kids, start really showing respect to people who really care about you. ...nothing personal and of course there will be a few P.C. PALY PARENTS THAT THINK THAT IS VERY OUT OF LINE TO SAY BUT IN MY WORLD YOU HAVE TO EARN YOUR RESPECT

Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 9, 2006 at 9:06 pm

couple of thoughts here -

1. not all the facts are out yet. We have a police version and a variety of journalists' versions and the kids' versions.... a bit early to ask for firings and prosecution.

2. yes, it's good to compare this to other cases for the cautionary tales they provide, but as a practical matter, you can't treat a misdemeanor like a felony if it didn't rise to the level of a felony. Should all reckless driving charges be handled with the seriousness of vehicular manslaughter? We'd be litigating ourselves to death and fillling our prisons even more than already. Everyone needs to keep things in perspective here, a dose of realism. (I trust no one will misread my statements as an endorsement of teen drinking or parental enabling, right?).

Posted by Ray
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2006 at 1:46 pm

"one more thing - SOMEONE (neighbors, presumably) thought this party was out of hand and minors were getting drunk, etc., and called police --- that's how the police must have been alerted in the first place"

No, you're wrong. The people who called the cops were Gunn students who showed up out of the blue and were not allowed into the party because they were not friends with anyone. To get their revenge they called the cops and ruined the night.

If you haven't noticed by the new article in the paper, the original article was a flat out lie. That's right. The cops LIED. There were 35 kids, not 80. 20 took breathalyzers and passed. 1 girl got sick from drinking and "passed out" on the floor BECAUSE IT WAS A SLEEPOVER PARTY.

The cops are LIARS and they are the ones who should lose their jobs and get tarred and feathered by a bunch of bloodthirsty Palo Altans. The Gunn student cowards deserve a good beating. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2006 at 11:36 am

I don't understand the premise of this thread. The DA pressed charges and the couple pleaded No Contest. This will go down as a conviction on the records of the teacher and her husband. The district decided not to pursue it further. The may have been a mistake - I think it was since the teacher, even under the most favorable interpretation of the facts was grossly negligent and violated a law directly related to the supervision of minors. But it's the end of the story, so why keep ruminating about it?

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