Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona heard arguments Thursday regarding several motions filed by defense attorneys for Plains All American Pipeline.
Plains, the company responsible for the ruptured pipeline that caused the Refugio Oil Spill on May 19, 2015, was indicted on 46 criminal counts by a grand jury.
Defense attorneys filed a motion to move the trial out of Santa Barbara County, arguing that media coverage and politicians’ statements have made it impossible to hold a fair trial locally.
Dandona hasn’t yet ruled on that issue.
Attorneys have also filed several "995" motions, which challenge the sufficiency of evidence produced during the grand jury proceedings that led to the indictment.
Some of the arguments on these motions will be held during closed hearings since they refer to sealed documents and confidential grand jury testimony, Dandona said in court Thursday.
Plains All American Pipeline has pleaded not guilty to 46 charges, including four felonies and 42 misdemeanors, that allege the company discharged a pollutant into state waters, knowingly made a false or misleading oil report to the California Office of Emergency Services, failed to notify the National Response Center within one hour after confirmation of a pipeline release, and violated Fish and Game code by taking protected and migratory birds, and other animals (which died as results of the spill).
A motion discussed during Thursday’s hour-long hearing focused on the criminal counts that accuse Plains of taking wildlife, and arguments will continue in Dandona’s courtroom on Tuesday.
She will issue a written ruling, rather than make a decision at the hearing, she said.