Judge contends that woman accusing him of battery is mentally ill

A Los Angeles County judge accused of shoving and injuring a woman during a dispute about her dog's waste wants the case dismissed because of what his lawyer says is her history of mental illness.

City prosecutors say the altercation occurred July 18 when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Richman saw Connie Romero place a plastic bag of animal waste on the curb next to a street.

Romero, 51, accuses Richman of knocking her down from behind, leading to a cut over her left eye, a scrape on her left shoulder and swelling on her wrist. Prosecutors filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Richman in October.

But Richman's attorney, James Blatt, contends that Romero "has a long and continuous history of mental illness, violent responses and erratic behavior."

"The chance of a conviction with this witness is extremely remote," Blatt said Monday after a pretrial hearing in Van Nuys. 

According to Blatt, Richman asked Romero to find a trash can for the waste, but that she instead threw the bag at him and followed the judge home as he walked away. Blatt has said Romero then confronted the judge in his driveway and pushed him. The judge, he said, pushed her back. Romero fell but got up and moved to the middle of the street, where she lay until neighbors found her, Blatt said.

Assistant City Atty. Josh Geller has offered Richman a deal of one year in counseling if he pleads guilty to disturbing the peace. 

Richman, 55, spent about 20 years as a county prosecutor, serving as an assistant head deputy in San Fernando and a supervisor of the Target Crimes Division. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Richman to the judiciary in December 2005.

Richman, who did not appear at Monday's hearing, had been handling felony cases in the downtown courthouse until the battery charge was filed against him.

A court official said Richman was reassigned to the Chatsworth courthouse, where he’s working in the same courtroom as two other judges.

Another pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24. 


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