Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly will be officially served this morning with a notice of intent for his recall, organizers of the campaign announced Thursday.
Bryan Scott, chairman of Remove Judge M. Marc Kelly From the Bench says he will be joined by Orange County crime victims when they personally serve Kelly with the notice at 10 this morning. Scott launched an anti-Kelly Facebook campaign shortly after the veteran judge deviated from a state mandated 25 year prison sentence for a convicted child molester and ordered a 10-year term instead.
Also joining Scott in delivering the notice will be Crime Survivors Inc. CEO Patricia Wenskunas, and both will then talk with the media about the case at the center of the controversy.
Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto, 20, was playing video games in the garage of his Santa Ana home on June 4 of last year when a 3-year-old girl who he is related to wandered in, he became sexually aroused and pulled her pants down and then assaulted her. Rojano-Nieto was convicted Dec. 3 of sodomizing a child younger than 10 and lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, which would normally mandate a term of 25 years to life in prison under state law.
But in a rare legal move, Kelly found that in this case that punishment would be unconstitutional. “[I]n looking at the facts of Mr. Rojano's case, the manner in which this offense was committed is not typical of a predatory, violent brutal sodomy of a child case,'' Kelly reasoned in his ruling. “Mr. Roiano did not seek out or stalk (the victim). He was playing video games and she wandered into the garage. He inexplicably became sexually aroused but did not appear to consciously intend to harm (the victim) when he sexually assaulted her.”
Rojano-Nieto “almost immediately” stopped and “realized the wrongfulness of his act,” added Kelly, who found that “serious and despicable” but not comparable to “a situation where a pedophilic child predator preys on an innocent child. There was no violence or callous disregard for (the victim's) well-being.”
The judge also said the defendant “has shown extreme remorse for his actions and has been willing to accept the consequences,” and “was born into and raised in a dysfunctional familiar environment,” and had suffered “a great deal of family disruption and abuse, making him an insecure, socially withdrawn, timid, and extremely immature young man with limited self-esteem.”
A firestorm of criticism followed the ruling, with everyone from KFI's John and Ken to online fault-finders to the Orange County Board of Supervisors rebuking the judge. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, in a rare chance lately to go on offense instead of defense due to the controversies surrounding his office, announced that Kelly's sentence will be appealed.
The judge has also been supported by defense attorneys and others in the legal community who fell the moves against Kelly threaten judicial independence.
This morning's fireworks will be going off beginning at 10 a.m. at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.