Criminal Justice

Judge acquitted in battery case over dog-waste dispute

On the heels of a testy exchange with a prosecutor cross-examining him yesterday, a Los Angeles judge was acquitted today of criminal charges stemming from an argument with a woman walking dogs who left a bag of dog waste in the street near his home, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After deliberating for about three hours, the Van Nuys jury sided with Craig Richman, an L.A. Superior Court judge, who said the woman threw the bag into his car when he complained, then followed him up his driveway, cursing him and pushed him.

Richman, 55, said he put his hands on Connie Romero, 51, when she attacked him and that then she got tangled in multiple dog leashes and fell. Romero suffered a cut above her eye and scrapes on her wrist and knee.

On Wednesday, Richman admitted on cross-examination that he told Romero he was a “peace officer,” and Deputy City Attorney Joshua M. Geller asked Richman if he knows that impersonating a peace officer is a crime.

“Am I charged with that?” Richman shot back. The prosecutor then asked the judge to add the charge.

Judge Christine C. Ewell ruled that doing so would prejudice the defense because Richman might have chosen not to testify if he knew it could lead to such a charge.

After the verdict, James Blatt, Richman’s lawyer, said of the decision to prosecute Richman: “I consider that a crime” because prosecutors knew the difficulty of getting a conviction and prosecuted anyway. He also told the newspaper that Romero has a history of mental instability and previous acts of violence.

A spokesman for the city attorney said only: “We respect the jury’s decision.”

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