LeBlanc said he looks forward to speaking directly to PG&E representatives in court. He wants to look the “PG&E people in the face,” explain how victims of the fire “were real people, they had lives.” And how “in four hours, it was all gone.”

“They gotta hear my pain, and feel my pain, to get past this,” LeBlanc said.

Robert Weisberg, a professor at Stanford Law School, said having a defendant acknowledge guilt in detail in a courtroom is an important symbolic function of the criminal justice system.

“Often the purpose is to give victims a better sense of justice,” he said. “With PG&E it may be intended to constructively humiliate the company.”

But Weisberg also said that given the scrutiny, penalties and settlements PG&E now faces, it isn’t necessary for Butte County to add another layer of formal probation.

“PG&E is just an open book now,” Weisberg said. “Its activities are so rigorously controlled by the bankruptcy court, civil suits, and the federal monitor.”

The case is People of the State of California v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., 20CF01422, California Superior Court, Butte County (Oroville).

--With assistance from Mark Chediak.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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