California Supreme Court

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 – 04:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 – 10:15 p.m.

The California Supreme Court rendered a ruling Wednesday afternoon that will impact the highly-publicized Colonies criminal case.

The court, in today’s actions, denied review in a case expressly clarifying a long-standing legal principle that the statute of limitations for the charge of criminal conspiracy, California Penal Code section 182(a)(1), is a straight three years, with no discovery tolling. The ruling also reaffirms that the charge of conspiracy is a sole and seperate offense from any underlying predicate crimes alleged as being a part of the conspiracy.

In May 2011, prosecutors for San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos and then-Attorney General Kamala Harris, lacking any credible or tangible evidence, knowingly and intentionally pressed a special criminal grand jury for an indictment of Developer Jeff Burum, Former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, Former County Supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, Former Chief of Staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt, over alleged misconduct involving the 2006 settlement between the County of San Bernardino and Colonies Partners, in the amount of $102 million.

An indictment, four and one-half years after the settlement, well beyond the legally-permissible time limit.

All four defendants have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The case has been hamstrung, at the arraignment stage for almost two years, while prosecutors appeal the 2011 dismissal of key charges.

Wednesday’s ruling, now establishes a new case precedent. One that will ultimately deliver another blow to the improperly charged indictment by way of the dismissal of count 1 (Conspiracy) of the indictment.

The newly-decided case People v. Milstein (Court of Appeal case no. B233589, Supreme Court case no. S208179) originated in the California Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District.