The judicial system in Los Angeles is facing a unique and concerning situation. Judge Patrick Connolly has filed a motion that would disqualify fellow Judge Daniel Lowenthal from presiding over the resentencing of Justin Flint, who was convicted in 2007 of felony murder for the death of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Maria Rosa.
Judge Connolly, who served as lead trial counsel for the prosecution of Flint’s case, has argued that Judge Lowenthal is biased in favor of the criminal due to his personal Facebook posts which criticize policing culture and the U.S. criminal justice system. Lowenthal, who is the son of former U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D), has also allegedly boasted about dismissing a robbery case and offering probation to a middle-aged man with a low cognitive functioning level, and referencing his studies under the Marxist philosopher and former fugitive Angela Davis.
“Our paramilitary, aggressive policing culture, that often results in excessive force being used, should be replaced by one that emphasizes community-based policing focused on regular and positive community interaction,” he wrote. “A police department’s recruitment and training should be focused on more civil rights, civil liberties, and understanding the past inequities and oppression endured by members of the community that the department serves.”
The situation has prompted questions about judicial impartiality and the impact of personal views on the justice system. Connolly has motioned that a judge from a different county rule on the matter.
Lowenthal is the same judge that made national headlines when he declared a mistrial for a robbery suspect because he wasn’t getting enough sleep in jail.
During the trial Alan Nakasone, the defendants lawyer complained that his client couldn’t take notes because he wasn’t sleeping well in jail.
Lowenthal publically ripped the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for not giving robbery defendant Vamazae Elgin Banks a comfortable pillow and declared a mistrial.