Judge won't step down in corruption case

Feb. 23, 2011 at 12:46 AM

BELL, Calif., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A California judge Tuesday refused to recuse himself from a second set of hearings in the Bell corruption trial.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall Tuesday rejected the defense's motion for a different, "impartial" judge in the hearings for Bell officials accused of misappropriation of public funds and corruption, saying he could totally disregard the first hearings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former Councilman Luis Artiga face allegations in the second hearing.

Rizzo's lawyer, James Spertus, requested Hall step down because he was not open-minded and already had negative opinions about the issues.

Spertus cited the judge's remarks last week when he ordered six sitting and former Bell council members to be tried on misappropriation charges.

Hall said then that he was appalled by the allegations and ordered the defendants to stay away from running the city "in any shape or form."

"As far as I'm concerned, the first hearing never happened. We're starting from scratch," Hall said, telling defense counsel they should not refer to the first hearing in courtroom statements.

"I'm very concerned about getting a fresh assessment from this court. It's very important that we get a fair, fresh and impartial look at the evidence," said Spertus.

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