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Bell judge refuses Robert Rizzo’s call to step down in corruption hearing

February 22, 2011 | 11:26 am

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall denied a defense motion for a new "impartial" judge in the second wave of hearings for Bell officials charged with corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

James Spertus, an attorney for former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, filed a motion asking Hall to recuse himself because he was not coming to the hearing with "an open mind" and already had formed strong, negative opinions about the matter.

But Hall said, "As far as I'm concerned, the first [preliminary hearing] never happened. We're starting from scratch." Hall told defense attorneys that they should not refer to the first hearing in their remarks.

Spertus had cited Hall's statements last week when he ordered six current and former Bell council members to stand trial on charges that they misappropriated public funds. He described the allegations as "appalling" and ordered the defendants to "not be involved in the running of that city in any shape or form."

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

Tuesday's hearing marks the second of three to get underway for eight current and former Bell officials charged in the corruption scandal. Rizzo, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former Councilman Luis Artiga are facing charges in the second hearing.


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Robert Rizzo wants judge in Bell case to recuse himself

-- Corina Knoll and Jeff Gottlieb