Segue Construction, the builder of the apartments where the balcony collapsed in Berkeley, CA killing six people, sought to obtain a temporary restraining order against the Alameda County District Attorney’s office from investigating the condition of the collapsed deck without Segue’s participation. The Alameda County District attorney is investigating the remnants of the collapsed deck, and another one similar to it, located on the same building and immediately underneath it, as part of a criminal investigation into the accident. Segue’s attorneys argued that crucial evidence in the collapse would be jeopardized by any “destructive testing” of the decks’ remnants and requested that its team be given access to any testing that the Alameda County District attorney’s investigators perform.
In its moving papers Segue argued that allowing it access to observe the deck materials and remnants would not prevent the district attorney from performing its investigations. Segue contended that it was merely requesting the opportunity for its own consultants to be present during any testing of the deck materials and remnants. The district attorney argued that the proposed temporary restraining order would violate section 526 of the California Code of Civil Procedure because it would interfere with the execution of the district attorney’s investigation and prosecution of potential criminal activity. The district attorney further offered that the evidence gathered as part of an ongoing criminal investigation is by its nature confidential and that such confidentiality of the investigation would be destroyed and would compromise the “integrity and viability of the investigative process.”
The district attorney argued that Segue failed to demonstrate that it had any rights with regard to this balcony because it did not own the balcony, and was not part of any formal lawsuit filed against it. The district attorney also contended that if such a temporary restraining order were granted by the court, it could impede future criminal investigations, setting a precedent that would allow “a bank robber …to participate in the fingerprinting of a teller’s station.” The balcony was not its property and other third parties would be denied the same opportunities as Segue would get if it were allowed to participate in the investigation.
More legislative and legal activity is sure to follow.