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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Lawyers Seek New Judge in Grand Jury Challenge

May 02, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Attorneys challenging the Los Angeles County Grand Jury for its alleged exclusion of minorities asked the state Court of Appeal on Monday to replace a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who refuses to disqualify himself from a case.

Victor and Janet Sherman contend in court papers that Superior Court judges in Los Angeles cannot be objective about the grand jury challenge because they have participated in selecting grand jurors for more than 30 years.

During that time, minorities have been severely underrepresented, the attorneys charge. This year, there isn't a single Latino among the 23 grand jurors and four alternates, although Latinos make up more than 40% of the population of Los Angeles County.

The appeal deals specifically with the refusal of Superior Court Judge James M. Ideman to step aside in the case of Jaime Alejandro Mares, indicted on two counts of murder, including the slaying of a Los Angeles police officer during a November 1998 car chase. The Shermans represent Mares and have mounted the grand jury challenge as a defense.

Ideman, a retired federal jurist who hears cases under temporary assignment by the state Supreme Court, says he can be impartial because he does not participate in regular court business.

But the Shermans charge in legal papers filed in the 2nd District of the state Court of Appeal that Ideman "has distinct and outspoken beliefs regarding the selection of individuals for the grand jury pool based in his experience as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge."

Ideman served on the Superior Court for five years during the 1980s.

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