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L.A. judge acquitted of battery in trial over dog-waste dispute

Crime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemCourts and the Judiciary

A Van Nuys jury acquitted a Los Angeles County judge of battery Thursday following a week-long trial in which he was accused of shoving a woman to the ground after a dispute over a bag of dog waste.

Jurors returned the not-guilty verdict Thursday morning after deliberating for about three hours.

The case against Superior Court Judge Craig Richman hinged on the testimony of Connie F. Romero, who testified that the judge pushed her from behind during the encounter near his Chatsworth home in July. Romero, 51, suffered minor injuries including a cut above her eye and scrapes on her wrist and knee.

Richman, 55, testified that he stopped his car to ask Romero to pick up a bag of dog feces he saw her drop on the street. The judge told jurors that she was confrontational, verbally abusive and followed him up his driveway, where she pushed him.

Richman's attorney, James Blatt, welcomed the jury's verdict and decried the decision by the city attorney's office to charge his client with misdemeanor battery. He described Romero as having a history of mental instability and previous acts of violence.

"For them to pursue this matter ... I consider that a crime," he said after Thursday's verdict was announced. "They knew from the very beginning that under these circumstances it would be very difficult to obtain a conviction against Judge Richman, and they pursued this matter anyway."

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the city attorney's office, declined to comment, other than to say, "We respect the jury's decision."

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

Twitter: @jackfleonard

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