Judge Admonishes Baca For Hallway Encounter In Front Of Jurors

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Jury deliberations resumed Wednesday in the corruption case of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, a day after he was admonished by a federal judge for a hallway exchange in front of jurors.

As jurors were being escorted down a hallway Tuesday, Baca passed them and offered up a friendly nudge to the arm of the security personnel escorting them.

After hauling the former sheriff back into the courtroom, the judge noted it was not acceptable for Baca to acknowledge them and addressed him directly, asking if he could explain why any kind of exchange was necessary.

Without waiting for an answer, the judge ordered Baca and his team to stay away from the courthouse’s café and other common areas and remain isolated in the attorney lounge until the jury reaches a verdict.

Baca said the exchange was inadvertent.

Tuesday was the jury’s first full day of deliberations in the retrial of Baca, who is accused of orchestrating a scheme to thwart an FBI investigation into inmate mistreatment in the jails he ran and of lying to federal agents. The retired lawman was first tried in December for obstruction of justice and conspiracy, but a mistrial was declared after jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquitting the former sheriff.

Nine former sheriff’s officials, including Baca’s top deputy, Paul Tanaka, have been convicted in the case.

If convicted of all charges, Baca faces up to 20 years in federal prison, according to prosecutors.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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