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High Court declines review of ex-LA Sheriff Lee Baca's case

Gerrymandering case hits Supreme Court
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jan 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-14 00:47:28-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is likely headed to prison after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review his corruption case, a newspaper reported.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year rejected Baca's request to reconsider an earlier ruling upholding his conviction and three-year prison sentence. The lower court previously ruled that Baca received a fair trial.

The Supreme Court denied Baca’s request to reopen his case for review, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Baca, 77, stepped down as sheriff in 2014 amid an FBI investigation into abuses at the nation's largest jail system. A jury convicted him in 2017 of obstructing the investigation and lying to prosecutors. His lawyer unsuccessfully argued on appeal that the jury should have been told of Baca's Alzheimer's disease diagnosis in 2016.

“The Supreme Court missed an opportunity to right the significant legal wrongs that occurred in Sheriff Baca’s case,” his attorney, Nathan Hochman, said in a statement Monday.

In the filing, Baca’s attorneys had asked the justices to consider two issues, according to the newspaper. The first was whether the trial court had properly instructed the jury about the obstruction of justice counts.

They also asked the justices to review the trial court’s use of an anonymous jury, in which the jurors’ identities were unknown even to Baca and attorneys. The 9th Circuit had ruled that the district court’s decision to impanel an anonymous jury was reasonable because of the highly publicized nature of the case and Baca’s position as a former high-ranking law enforcement officer.

Baca has remained free while his appeals were pending. The Supreme Court’s decision clears the way for U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who sentenced Baca, to set a date when he must begin serving his sentence.