[Legal Issues]"Y2K concerns force delay in du Pont murder retrial"(...Constitutional Rights...)

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* * * 19990603 Thursday

So much for Constitutional Rights to "due process" and "speedy trials"... This is a harbinger of things to come!!

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * * < http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/1999/jun/02/508874663.html >

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June 02, 1999

Y2K concerns force delay in du Pont murder retrial


The January 2000 retrial of Joseph Balignasa over the alleged murder-for-hire slaying of a woman with ties to the wealthy du Pont family has been postponed until the end of that month.



The Clark County manager's concern over potential computer glitches as the new millennium begins has caused county departments to take a cautious approach to business on the first week of the new year.

District Court Administrator Chuck Short said Tuesday that at least the first couple of days of 2000, only the most necessary court hearings will be conducted -- primarily involving prisoners who are in custody or emergency matters.

Short said that any problems surfacing during that time likely can be solved before the courts resume full schedules later that week.

If not, Short emphasized, the courts are prepared to handle criminal and civil cases without the usual reliance on computer technology.

In April County Manager Dale Askew asked all county departments to prepare operating plans in the event of a catastrophic Y2K situation.

The potential problems stem from old ways of coding computers that relied on the final two digits to indicate the year. Come Jan. 1 computers that have not been reprogrammed may have trouble recognizing the proper year, which could cause errors or even failure.

Short said that with a greatly reduced caseload, a catastrophic event would be minimized.

During the first week of 2000 there will be no trials or preliminary hearings scheduled. As the week progresses, more and more cases will be heard so judges don't get too far behind, Short said.

A pretrial hearing for Balignasa is scheduled for the beginning of the new year, and his case is not considered a priority. Consequently, District Judge John McGroarty postponed the trial until Jan. 24.

Balignasa's first trial on murder charges last month ended in a mistrial because of juror misconduct.

Although he is charged with murder, he is alleged to have been a relatively minor player in the strangulation death of 45-year-old Patricia Margello, the girlfriend of a junior heir to the du Pont chemical fortune. Balignasa is the only state court defendant because he was not connected to an alleged interstate conspiracy to kill Margello.

Diana Hironaga, one of three other defendants facing a variety of charges in federal court in the case, has pleaded guilty to several counts in a plea bargain that will give her a chance one day for parole.

Trial in federal court for the remaining two, including the husband of a direct du Pont descendent, is scheduled for later this year.

All contents copyright 1999 Las Vegas SUN, Inc.

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-- Robert Mangus (rmangus@hotmail.com), June 03, 1999

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