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San Rafael man denies diversion in education official's alleged battery

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A San Rafael man accused of punching an educational official will not be allowed to participate in a court diversion program where the charges can be dropped.

James Hallahan Keating, 62, faces two misdemeanor charges of battery and battery against the elderly in an alleged attack on former San Rafael school trustee Greg Nell, 73. there is Keating sought diversion under a section of state law that allows judges to place defendants on diversion tracks even if prosecution attorneys disagree with the plan.

Keating had previously applied for diversion and was denied, but his motion was reintroduced and granted due to what Judge Roy Charnas described as a “court error.” The authorization was later revoked.

According to a police report cited in a motion by Aaron Pressman, Keating’s public defender, Keating was killed on April 25, 2021 in the parking lot of Terra Linda’s Northgate One Shopping Center. approached. Knell had just parked his car in a handicapped parking lot.

Citing a police report, Pressman said Nell rolled down the window when Keating walked in, and Keating “said something like, ‘I could use this space,’ and then the car opened.” I hit Nell through the window,” he wrote.

Police and court records show that officers found Keating inside a restaurant in a shopping center when Knell called police.

In an interview last month, Nell said Keating “accused me of teaching racism and punched me.”

After 17 years on the San Rafael Board of Education, Nell will begin his term on the Marin County Board of Education in December. He said he believed the attacks were part of an education-related movement and included book bans, anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theories, and accusations against teachers in general and history teachers in particular.

A hearing on Keating’s diversion motion was held on Thursday. Keating is “dedicated to making his life better and is seeking a second chance to defend his conviction from his record,” Pressman wrote in the motion.

Pressman wrote that Keating was an “ideal candidate” for the diversion program.

“It’s been 18 years since Mr Keating got into some kind of trouble with law enforcement, and he hasn’t had a problem since his arrest last year,” Pressman detailed Thursday.

Deputy District Attorney Zachary Harmon said there are no new circumstances that would compel the court to reconsider Keating’s request.

Keating “has not committed a new crime since July” when his motion was previously considered, but “I don’t think it’s an appropriate or really sound argument,” Harmon said. rice field.

The judge agreed.

“The law makes it clear that diversion was denied,” Cernus said.

Asked for comment after the hearing, Nell said he was “relieved” by the result. He also said he was worried Keating would be offered a plea bargain.

Keating declined to comment when contacted by phone after the hearing. He plans to return to court on November 7th.