Atty. Gen. to handle case of retired judge who police say fired on them

The California attorney general's office will decide whether to criminally charge a retired Los Angeles County judge accused of opening fire on police officers during a standoff at his home last month, a district attorney's office spokeswoman said Thursday.

Jane Robison said the district attorney's office will not make the decision about whether to prosecute James Bascue, who worked in the district attorney's office before becoming a judge.


At a hearing Thursday scheduled after Bascue's arrest in June, Judge Keith L. Schwartz said that all L.A. County judges would have to recuse themselves and that he knows Bascue personally. A court spokeswoman said the office would make a determination about how to proceed "if the case is filed."

Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, said the office agreed to take the case at the request of the district attorney's office "because of Mr. Bascue's former positions as chief deputy district attorney and presiding judge of the Los Angeles [County] Superior Court."

Attorney Richard G. Hirsch, who is representing Bascue, said his client is at an undisclosed location getting treatment, but declined to specify what type.

"Judge Bascue is working hard to deal with some serious issues in his life," he said.

Hirsch said he planned to provide the attorney general's office with information in the next month that he said he expects will help decide whether to file charges. Bascue's next scheduled court hearing is Aug. 10.

Los Angeles police said the shooting occurred after Bascue called authorities around 11:45 p.m. on June 10 and reported he was being held hostage inside his West L.A. home. Dispatchers gleaned little information from Bascue's call, LAPD Officer Liliana Preciado said. He offered few details and refused to turn down the volume on a blaring TV set, she said.

When police arrived at the town house in the 1900 block of South Barrington Avenue, they found the retired judge inside his living room with two guns on his lap, police said. He loaded the guns' magazines and pointed a gun at his head, police said.

Officers pleaded with him to drop the weapons.

Police said that Bascue fired two shots, one inside his house and another toward the officers at the window. The shooting prompted a standoff with a SWAT team and officers tried to talk Bascue into surrendering. Family members were contacted, but he would not emerge, police said.

A neighbor eventually persuaded him to give up and he was arrested, police said.

Police evaluated Bascue for mental health problems, but did not place him on a psychiatric hold.

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Times staff writers Matt Hamilton and Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.