California's dive boat, Ghost Ship fires share legal lessons

California's dive boat, Ghost Ship fires share legal lessons
FILE - This Dec. 6, 2016, file photo provided by the City of Oakland shows inside the burned warehouse after the deadly fire that broke out on Dec. 2, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Deaths from California fires on the scuba diving boat Conception and at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse have brought a search for blame aimed at finding whether someone was negligent. Getting criminal charges to stick in the 2016 fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse has proven difficult and could provide lessons as investigators decide whether a crime occurred aboard the Conception scuba diving boat that burned Sept. 2, 2019. (City of Oakland via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deaths from California fires on a scuba diving boat and at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse have brought a search for blame aimed at finding whether someone was negligent.

Getting criminal charges to stick in the 2016 fire that killed 36 partygoers at the Oakland warehouse has proven difficult. That could provide lessons as investigators decide whether a crime occurred aboard the Conception boat that burned and killed 34 people this month.

A jury acquitted one of the Ghost Ship defendants this month and deadlocked on whether to convict the other of involuntary manslaughter.

Experts say prosecutors would only have to prove simple negligence in the Conception case under a little-used boating manslaughter law.

They would have to show the captain or crew should have recognized the risk and acted differently.