Recently, James Bascue, a retired judge who left the LA Superior Court bench eight years ago, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer following a standoff in the Sawtelle community, according to a news article at the Daily News.
Los Angeles Police Dept. spokeswoman Officer Liliana Preciado said Bascue was being held on $100,000 bail at the time of reports. Police were called by the judge, who is now 75 years old, on Thursday to a townhouse located in the 1900 block of South Barrington Avenue; Bascue claimed he was a hostage at the townhouse, where police found him sitting on a couch armed with two guns upon looking through a window of the home. When police attempted to make contact with Bascue, he allegedly began loading a gun and magazines, firing a shot toward officers through the window, as well as a shot inside the home. Preciado confirmed that no one was hurt during the incident.
SWAT officers were called to the scene, however Bascue eventually walked out of the townhouse after calling a neighbor, who convinced him to come out. No others were inside the townhouse and no other suspects found.
Bascue retired when he reached age 67 in 2007, the maximum retirement age for a judge.
Under California Penal Code 245, Assault with a Deadly Weapon is considered a “wobbler” offense; that is, it may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. When the offense involves a police or peace officer or firefighter who was performing his or her duty when the assault took place and the defendant knew or should have known the intended victim was a police officer, peace officer, or firefighter, the offense is always charged as a felony. This means the penalties for a conviction are much harsher, and may include from four to 12 years in prison depending on whether a regular firearm, semiautomatic firearm, or assault weapon (such as a machine gun or .50 BMG rifle) was used.
Considering the judge’s age, could he have been suffering from dementia or another condition that affects the mind? One news source claims that Bascue was given a mental evaluation, but authorities arrested him instead of placing the judge in a 72-hour mental health hold. Hopefully we will learn more details about the incident and whether the judge pleads not guilty, no contest, or guilty to the charges.
As trusted Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, we realize there are sometimes underlying issues that may account for a person’s actions. Regardless of the crime, it is critical to work with an experienced defense lawyer when facing serious criminal charges, as your freedom, reputation, and future may be in jeopardy. The damaging consequences can often be mitigated by working with a skilled defense attorney.