Plains All-American Pipeline Company is trying to convince a Santa Barbara County judge to give it a new trial.
A four-month trial earlier this year ended with multiple guilty verdicts against Plains All-American for the May 19, 2015, Refugio Oil Spill. Now, attorneys for the pipeline company are accusing the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office of prosecutorial misconduct for filing misleading documents and making misleading comments during the trial.
Plains All-American wants Judge James Herman to set a new trial date.
However, Judge Herman may not buy into Plain’s accusations against the D.A’s Office. He tentatively ruled on Thursday that he would deny the request for a new trial. A formal ruling is expected at the next court hearing on January 9, 2019.
Plains All-American was found guilty of one felony and eight misdemeanors. The guilty verdicts included failing to properly maintain its highly pressurized pipeline, failing to timely call emergency response agencies about the spill, killing marine mammals and killing protected seabirds.
The spill released about 140,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean and polluted miles of pristine beaches along the Gaviota Coast.
There were a few heated exchanges during Thursday’s court hearing and it’s one of the few hearings where Judge Herman has allowed news cameras inside during the proceedings.
Both sides will be back in court on January 9, 2019, and depending on the judge’s ruling for a new trial, Plains All-American could be sentenced in March.