Judge Blocks Baca’s Brain Doc

Photo Credit: Eric Leonard

A federal judge has ruled defense lawyers for Lee Baca will not be allowed to call an Alzheimer’s expert to testify at the former L.A. County Sheriff’s upcoming corruption retrial. 

U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson granted in a written ruling the prosecutors’ motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. James Spar, who defense lawyers said would tell jurors it was possible Baca was suffering from the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease during one relevant event.

“Evidence linking defendant’s current diagnosis to the charges is entirely speculative and inadmissible, is the product of unreliable methodology, artificially limited facts, and bare speculation,” Anderson said in the order filed Friday.

Jury selection in the retrial on conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice charges is set to begin Wednesday. 

Once a panel of jurors and alternates is selected from a pool of about 250 potential jurors, it will also consider a third count that accuses Baca of lying when he was interviewed by federal agents and prosecutors in 2013.

That’s when Baca’s defense attorney, Nathan Hochman, said Dr. Spar could testify that Baca’s memory might have begun to suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s, which Baca was diagnosed with years later.

Earlier this month Judge Anderson ruled Baca would not be allowed to wear a Sheriff’s badge lapel pin in front of jurors. 

"I don't find the defendant has provided any reason why he's wearing the pin," the judge said.

Prosecutors had complained the pin amounted to Baca communicating with the jury without having to face cross examination.

The jury in Baca's first trial deadlocked in December 11 to 1 in favor of acquittals on both charges.

Federal prosecutors say Baca masterminded a scheme in 2011 to interfere with a grand jury investigation of civil rights abuses inside County jails. 

Baca's defense lawyers said others in the Sheriff's Department broke the law; Baca's only intent was to investigate the scope of the federal probe.

— Eric Leonard (@LeonardFiles)

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