Station Fire Victims Failed At Every Level

Patrick Lynch, Attorney General for the State of Rhode Island, is claiming he is not responsible for a plea deal being offered to Michael and Jeff Derderian, the owners of The Station Night Club, where 100 people were killed in a fast-moving fire on February 20, 2003. You can read the full interview with Lynch here.

Like many people, I find this to be one of the starkest and most disgusting examples of judicial failure I have ever seen. Patrick Lynch is the Attorney General. If he can’t take responsibility for the decisions coming out of his office, he does not deserve the authority that the office affords. He is either lying, or he is completely incompetent.

I agree with the James C. Gahan, whose son, James C. Gahan IV died in the fire:

“We were failed basically at all levels,” said Gahan, listing town and state inspectors, the Derderians and, now, the judiciary.

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3 responses

  1. Kiersten,

    It is unconscionable that a plea agreement was entertained, let alone formalized, and then for the architect to deny any involvement in it. It is inconceivable that Attorney General Lynch was out of the loop in the most emotionally charged and high profile case to be prosecuted by his office.

    A plea agreement is the legal equivalent of “hedging your bets� at Foxwoods. Originally conceived as a means of clearing overcrowded court dockets of “run-of-the-mill� cases where the facts were clear and the outcome was not much in doubt, it has now morphed into a means where both sides work out a deal to avoid a loss. The prosecution can claim a “win�, the defense can claim that it courageously saved the day for its clients and the judge can find solace in not putting the victims through a process that relives the misery of their lives that began the night of the Station fire. All that gets lost under this scenario is the examination of the facts of the case and the ever elusive “search for truth.�

    Trials are about more than the conviction or the acquittal of defendants. At their best, they reflect the community’s attempt to right a wrong against one or more of its members. The title of a case, “State vs. ____� or “People vs. _____� reflects the view that an offense against one of us is in fact an offense against all of us. It’s not just the individual victims or their families that cry for justice, it’s all of us. Therefore, in a very real way, this plea agreement with its lenient sentence recommendations, apparently accepted by Judge Darigan, is not just a slap in the face to the victims and their families. It is a slap to all Rhode Islanders who looked to this trial for an exposition of the facts that led to this tragedy, the punishment – if appropriate – of the guilty parties, and a sense that “justice� was served.

    All of that is denied the victims of the Station fire and their families. Over the summer I had the opportunity to meet with a family member of a victim of the fire. She was the mother of a woman who died at the Station nightclub. During our brief conversation, she was outraged that Daniel Biechle was given a plea agreement that resulted in his imprisonment for only four years. However, she held out some hope that her daughter’s death would in some measure be vindicated by the trial of the Derderians. Other than that faint hope, she had lost all interest in any governmental institution and struggled each day with her loss. Judge Darigan is wrong when he says that this deal would spare the victims and their families from having to relive the pain of their lives – they have nothing left from which to be spared.

    And after all this, who can blame the woman I met and others like her from feeling like forgotten pawns to be sacrificed in a bigger chess game.

  2. The words that come to mind are “gross miscarriage of justice,” or “protecing of guilty parties.”

    A hundred people die and ONE of the brothers gets four years? Wow. Talk about life being cheap.

    And, per the ProJo, the original offer was the other brother was supposed to get 1,000 hours of community service. But that was too harsh.

    But the worst part may be that Lynch tries to portray himself as an innocent bystander, or a victim of circumstance. Who is running the show?

    My apologies. The worst part is that 100 people died. The REAL victims and their families deserved so much better.

  3. I will always miss you Carlos Pimentel SR. you will always be in my heart.I will never forget you.R.I.P. Carlos Pimentel SR.

    With love & hearts,
    amber palazzo

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