LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Lawyers for Lee Baca want the corruption trial against the former Los Angeles County Sheriff moved to another county because they say prior negative publicity has made it impossible to find an impartial jury in Los Angeles County.
“Based on the constant, inflammatory, and far-reaching media coverage surrounding this matter, a trial within the Central District of California, particularly within Los Angeles County, will violate Mr. Baca’s due process rights,” the defense motion states.
At the hearing, Baca’s attorney will also recommend that federal prosecutor Brandon Fox be removed from the forthcoming trial because he is a potential defense witness.
Baca faces trial Dec. 6 before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson for allegedly helping to obstruct a federal probe into misconduct by jail deputies. He is charged with conspiring to obstruct justice, obstructing justice and lying to the federal government, charges stemming from his alleged response in 2011 to a covert FBI investigation into corruption and brutality by guards at Men’s Central Jail.
Defense attorney Nathan Hochman says the 74-year-old ex-lawman is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was impaired by the illness at the time of the charged offenses five years ago.
A different judge recently denied Baca’s attempt to disqualify Anderson, who has overseen other high-profile cases involving the FBI investigation into civil rights abuses at county jails.
Baca previously backed out of a plea deal on the lying count — which called for him to serve no more than six months in prison — after Anderson rejected the agreement as too lenient. If Baca had not withdrawn from the plea, he could have been handed a sentence of five years behind bars.
He was subsequently indicted on the new charges, and could face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of all counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.