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State court again rejects SLO County DA's appeal to prosecute Tianna Arata case

San Luis Obispo Tribune logo San Luis Obispo Tribune 9/29/2022 Chloe Jones, The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

Sep. 29—The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office cannot prosecute Tianna Arata and six other Black Lives Matter demonstrators, the California Court of Appeal reaffirmed Wednesday, denying both the office and the California Attorney General's Office's petitions for a rehearing.

That now sets the stage for the DA's Office to escalate the case to the highest arbiter in the state: the California Supreme Court.

The opinion was published in the official reports, making it citable case law that can be relied upon in future similar cases, the court ordered.

On Aug. 31, the California Court of Appeal upheld San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Matthew Guerrero's decision to remove the office, citing a campaign fundraising email sent by San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow's wife in which she said Dow was "leading the fight against the wacky defund the police movement" as a "clear conflict of interest."

The District Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General's Office both filed petitions before the state Court of Appeal on Sept. 15, asking the judges to rehear the case to correct factual errors and omissions they say appear in the court's opinion.

The offices also asked the court to address the impact those corrections may have on the initial ruling, according to court documents.

The court made one modification to the opinion that clarified wording regarding whether an attorney affidavit was required for evidence of the law that establishes when a prosecutor can be disqualified from a case.

"On page 7, second paragraph, the words 'attorney affidavit required by section 1424' are deleted and the words 'motion's supporting affidavit' are inserted in their place," the court ordered. "There is no change in the judgment. The petitions for rehearing filed on September 15, 2022, are denied."

San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney previously tole The Tribune in an email the office "fully intends" to take the case to California Supreme Court if the ruling goes unchanged. He could not immediately respond to request for comment.

Curtis Briggs, who represents Arata, previously told The Tribune that San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow "misses the point" the judges made when focusing on facts like dates. The issue at hand, Briggs said, was that Dow used Black Lives Matter protesters as "political pawns."

"Dan Dow was using the ethics of a pimp. He was trying to raise money — and he doesn't even have a real opponent — and he was trying to raise money off of his prosecution of Black Lives Matter protesters. That's an illness. That's a bureaucratic political illness."

Briggs did not immediately respond to request for comment.

This story was originally published September 28, 2022 6:43 PM.

(c)2022 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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