Friday, February 7, 2014
Judge Craig Richman Acquitted of Battery Charge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Craig Richman was acquitted of battery yesterday.
Richman, 55, was charged with a misdemeanor count of battery after pushing Connie F. Romero to the ground of his driveway at his Chatsworth home.
Richman, who faced up to six months in jail, decided to go to trial after rejecting a plea agreement which entailed a year of anger-management counseling.
Media reports said that the judge testified in his own defense and that he admitted to having pushed Romero after she had thrown a bag of dog feces into his car, entered onto his property and pushed him, while continuously screamed profanities at him.
Richman admitted that he lied to Romero by telling her that he was a police officer in order to deescalate the confrontation. Deputy City Attorney Joshua M. Geller later requested that the court permit him to add the misdemeanor charge of impersonating a police officer to Richman’s battery charge.
Judge Christine C. Ewell, who presided over the trial in Van Nuys, ruled on Wednesday that the charge could not be added, explaining that to do so would unfairly impact Richman’s defense.
According to published reports, Richman said that on July 18 he was driving down his street and witnessed Romero, 51, walking three dogs. Romero dropped a bag of excrement in the street, he said, at which point he stopped his car and politely requested that she pick up the bag. Richman explained that Romero refused, and had told him that she would pick it up upon her return.
Richman testified that Romero then laughed about the waste bag and said, “If you want it so badly, here it is,” before throwing the bag into Richman’s car.
The encounter continued, and ultimately moved onto Richman’s driveway. It was there, Richman said, that Romero followed him onto his driveway and pushed him. The prosecutor contended, however, that Romero had been pushed from behind, leaving her with minor injuries, including a cut above her eye.
During closing arguments on Wednesday,, Geller depicted Richman as a man used to power, who lost control when Romero did not comply with his request that she pick up the bag. Gellar, according to the report, said the judge may be suffering from an “undiagnosed mental condition.”
James E. Blatt, who served as Richman’s attorney, told the MetNews that he was not surprised by the outcome. “The only thing I’m surprised about is that the city attorney filed,” he said.
“I think this was filed because Mr. Richman is a judge. Even though it became obvious that Mr. Richman was innocent of these charges.”
“Clearly it was a personal matter with Mr. Geller. His case is going to haunt the city attorney’s office for a significant period of time.”
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said:
“We respect the jury’s verdict.”
He declined to comment on Blatt’s statements.
The Associated Press reported that Richman will return to his Downtown Los Angeles courtroom on Monday. He had been transferred to the Chatsworth courthouse after being charged.
Richman was appointed to the bench in 2005 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. From 1986, he was a deputy district attorney, where he served in the central trials unity after having been an assistant head deputy in the Target Crimes Division.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company