Hearing on UCLA Chemistry Fire Case

Apparently, the trial of UCLA Prof. Patrick Harran is under way although it is receiving limited media coverage.  Readers of this blog will know that the case stemmed from a lab accident in which a student assistant, Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji, was killed.  At one time the Regents were also charged but they were dropped form the case by the DA.  We have suggested that in this case and another involving a faculty member, the DA is overreaching in what should be a civil case.  UCLA agrees and is providing legal defense for Prof. Harran,  Coverage can be found in the Westwood-Century City Patch at:


…Harran was charged last December along with the Regents of the University of California. On July 27, criminal charges against the UC regents were dismissed as the result of an “enforcement agreement” that called for corrective measures. Sangji—who was not wearing a lab coat—suffered second- and third-degree burns as she was transferring a highly flammable chemical agent, tert- Butyllithium, when it spilled from a syringe and onto her hands, arms and body and ignited, according to the agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and the UC regents. Harran’s attorney told reporters earlier this year that Sangji’s death was an “unspeakable tragedy.”

“… What happened in that laboratory was an accident, not a crime,” O’Brien said in July. “While we all wish this terrible tragedy had not occurred, there is no reasonable explanation for this prosecution and it’s been flawed from the start.” Harran faces four and a half years in prison if convicted of the charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

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