Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Connor Files for Divorce From Presiding Judge Bascue
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor has filed for divorce from her husband, Superior Court Presiding Judge James Bascue.
Connor, who cited irreconcilable differences in papers filed Oct. 24, is representing herself in the proceedings.
She declined to comment on the matter, saying it was a private issue. Bascue is out of the country and could not be reached.
According to the petition, Connor is requesting that the couple share legal custody of their two minor sons, ages 15 and 17, but that she retain sole physical custody of the boys.
The high-profile couple separated in June after 20 years and seven months of marriage.
As presiding judge, Bascue is the top judicial administrator for the largest trial court in the nation. His duties include assigning more than 500 judges and commissioners to courtrooms in more than 50 facilities around the county. He also leads an Executive Committee that sets policy for the court.
Bascue was a prosecutor and reached a top post under District Attorney Robert Philibosian. He later served as chief trial counsel for the State Bar of California.
Appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. George Deukmejian in 1990, Bascue soon assumed leadership posts on the court. He served as supervising judge of the criminal departments as the court was grappling with the O.J. Simpson trial and the fallout from the Three Strikes law.
Bascue was elected assistant presiding judge of the court in 1999 and helped lead the court through unification with the municipal courts last year. He became presiding judge in January.
Connor, too, has had an impact on the court, drawing notice for key rulings and innovations in jury service. She has encouraged jurors in her own courtroom to submit questions for witnesses, and has recommended that other judges try that and other experiments in her role as chair of the court’s Grand and Trial Jurors Committee.
Connor made the news last December when she presided over the criminal prosecution of three Los Angeles police officers from the Rampart anti-gang unit. The jury convicted the three, but Connor later overturned the verdict after ruling that her instructions resulted in unintentional juror misconduct.
She drew plaudits from legal scholars for her straightforward acknowledgement that she committed a “fatal error” by failing to recognize that jurors would be confused by a term used by officers on the stand.
Bascue and Connor met while both were deputies in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. They were married in 1980.
Connor was appointed a Municipal Court judge by Deukmejian in 1986 and to the Superior Court in 1988.
The couple’s case is currently assigned to Judge Kenneth Black, but he and Family Law supervising judge Aviva Bobb could decide to recuse themselves on the basis of conflict of interest, Assistant Presiding Judge Robert Dukes said.
The parties can also choose to waive any conflicts if they wish, Dukes said.
Bascue’s secretary said he is on vacation in the Mexican jungle until Monday.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company