COUNTYWIDE : Decision Delayed on Sheriff’s Testifying
A federal judge ruled Friday that he will decide later whether Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block has to testify as a defense witness in the civil rights trial of six Los Angeles County narcotics officers. U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi said he would wait until he hears the Jan. 3 testimony of lower-ranking Sheriff’s Department officials before deciding whether to order Block to appear in court. Attorneys for the five sheriff’s deputies and a Los Angeles police officer had subpoenaed Block in hopes of eliciting testimony that could contradict a key prosecution witness, former Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert R. Sobel. But Takasugi said other department officials would have to be called first to determine if Block’s testimony was needed. The government rested its case on Friday against the defendants who are accused of beating narcotics dealers and stealing cash. Prosecutors have called nearly 50 witnesses during the 3 1/2-month trial.