Trial begins for judge facing misdemeanor battery charge in dog-waste dispute
Posted Jan 31, 2014 12:55 PM CST
By Martha Neil
Did a California judge shove a 51-year-old woman from behind on the driveway of his home, or did she shove him first as a verbal dispute raged over the disposal of dog waste?
That is the question that a jury must answer in the misdemeanor battery case against Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Richman, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reports. A trial began this week, after the 55-year-old jurist and former longtime county prosecutor rejected a plea deal that would have required him to undergo a year of anger management counseling. If convicted in the case, he could face a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
The battle between the two began last summer when the judge, apparently in or near his car, asked Connie Romero, a neighborhood housekeeper and dog walker who was outside with several small leashed dogs, to pick up the waste she had left in a bag on the street. She said she would get it on her way back to the dogs' home, but the judge told her to pick it up then and there. She then flung it onto his passenger seat, the newspaper recounts. She followed the judge home, according to an earlier report by the newspaper, and a confrontation ensued on the judge's driveway.
Joshua Geller, an assistant Los Angeles city attorney who is prosecuting the case, said in opening statements that Richman crossed a line after Romero "had a moment of clarity, and she turned to walk away.” At that point, the prosecutor said, "she felt two hands on her pushing her face-first into the pavement.” She allegedly suffered a cut above her eye, a scraped shoulder and a swollen wrist when she hit the ground.
However, attorney James E. Blatt, who represents Richman, described a very different scene to jurors. He said Richman told Romero he was a peace officer and tried to calm her down, to no avail.
“She’s screaming, she’s hollering and she pushes him,” Blatt said. “He puts his hands on her, and her feet get tangled in the leashes, and she falls.”
He called the judge the victim in the case and said he should not have been prosecuted.
ABAJournal.com: "Judge charged with battery over dog-waste dispute near his home"