The Retrial of Lee Baca The Trial of Lee Baca

Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca Granted Bail Pending Appeal

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Leroy Baca’s motion for bail pending his appeal in an order issued on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

The appeals court based its granting of the September 8, 2017 motion by Baca’s lawyer, Nathan Hochman, on three principles.

First, wrote the court, the former Los Angeles County Sheriff had “clearly and convincingly shown that he is not likely to flee or to pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released,” No one really disputed this part of Baca’s claim.

The other two principles, however, were the most important.

The most interesting was the court’s conclusion that “Baca has raised in his appeal a ‘substantial question’ of law or fact.”

In other words, there was at least one point in Baca’s appeal that the 9th believed could have merit, namely his attorneys claim that the district court in the person of U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson “erred by excluding expert evidence” of Baca’s Alzheimer’s disease.  This claim, the 9th wrote, “is at least ‘fairly debatable,'” given that “the exclusion of the  expert’s testimony was ‘directly relevant and material’ with respect to Baca’s claim that he lacked the requisite mens rea for the false statements charge.”

(“Mens rea” means criminal intent or guilty mind, in other words an individual’s awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal.

Moreover, “if that substantial question is determined favorably to defendant on appeal, that decision is likely to result in reversal or an order for a new trial of all counts on which imprisonment has been imposed.” (Italics are WLA’s)

Finally, according to the 9th, Baca had shown, through “a preponderance of the evidence” that he filed the appeal “for a purpose other than delay.”

In other words, this wasn’t a frivolous appeal designed solely to keep the 75-year-old former sheriff, who has been diagnosed with premature Alzheimer’s disease, out of prison for as long as possible.

“The record does not support the district court’s conclusion that “the nature of [Baca’s] illness” suggests that Baca is pursuing the appeal for the purpose of delay,” wrote the 9th.

To the contrary,  Baca had “raised a substantial question,” which was “evidence that the appeal is not for purpose of delay.”

So the former sheriff stays out—for a least a few months longer.

Just to remind you: on March 15, 2017, an eight-man four-woman jury sent a note to U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson indicating that, after deliberating for approximately fourteen hours, the twelve had reached a unanimous verdict in the trial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.  They found him guilty of one count each of  conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statement to federal investigators.

On May 12, Judge Anderson sentenced Baca to three years in a federal prison.

Baca’s opening brief for his appeal is due on October 25.

The government’s reply brief is due on November 24.

Oral arguments have not been scheduled.


  • As many of us who have known Baca for years, he is no different today than he was as a young man. Baca is disconnected, aloof and generally a cross between Mr. Magoo and Inspector Clouseau. And will lie to protect himself. Stonich and Waldie used to complain vociferously about Baca’s lack of common sense. Now there’s a couple of guys who deserved to be right with Baca. I’m not trying to be funny or facetious. The 9th ( The court of kangaroos) should have asked for wits who knew Baca from his past. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Baca was impaired during the time of the FBI sting. Well then that would mean that all of Baca’s decisions, the entire time he was sheriff, would come into question. If the jury believes Baca was impaired, the county can expect(rightfully so) an avalanche of legal challenges. The 9th isn’t very smart; how could Baca make all those so-called improvements he made in jail along with extra training for Jails Deps, if he was impaired? I guess Baca may have a new kind of Alzheimers where if you lie you have the disease but when you do something right the disease goes away? The defense of the dog ate my homework won’t work. Now, I’m being funny!

  • Ummmm, right on! You will recall Baca was well known as being incompetent during his pre-Sheriff career. Ask any of the deputies who worked with him at ELA back in the day. Worthless. Or better yet, ask the deputies who were there when he was a watch commander. OMG! Then recall the incident where, as a CAPTAIN, he decided to impound a yacht in a civil repossession dispute at Marina Del Rey – something a trainee wouldn’t have done – and the boat’s bottom literally rotted away while sitting for years at the county dock. That cost the County a cool quarter of a mil. Then he left his command at Norwalk in tatters where he took began his program of rehabilitation of “problem” deputies wherein he took problem deputies and gave them the choice assignments in an effort to “show them the light.” Never mind the deputies who deserved the assignments and got passed over. And never mind the frustrated supervisors who the problem deputies snickered at as they waltzed in to Baca’s office for their one-on-one sessions. Ask any of the deputies who were there how they liked the face-to-face meetings they had with the people who filed citizen complaints against them. How many of those things got “resolved”? When he got promoted to commander he went from assignment to assignment leaving a string of undone work or failed oversight – without fail. This can be attested to by virtually any of his peers or supervisors. And then there is the fact that the division chiefs recommended to the Sheriff that he promote any of the commanders to chief EXCEPT Baca (and one other commander).

    Oh, yeah. Baca was well known inside the LASD for what he was. Worthless. The McGoo/Clouseau label is good but Ummm and I both know that those names bestow a scent of innocence that is not there at all. Clueless yes, innocent no. Add that Ummm’s assessment of arrogant and you’ve hit Leroy right on the head.

    Yet, for reasons I can only speculate, he continued to be promoted inside the LASD all the way to division chief.

    And then along came Waldie, Stonich and the notion that Sheriff Block was vulnerable. Baca couldn’t wait to be Sheriff. He had told deputies he worked with as far back as his deputy days at ELA that he wanted to be Sheriff. Block was getting old. The LA Times WANTED him gone because he was “the most powerful politician in LA” and a Republican to boot! Block had promoted Baca to Division Chief (again, fill in the blank as to why??) but Block had tried to “hide” him in Court Services. But Baca had used the position to lobby judges and the judicial system to a possible candidacy. Waldie and Stonich were Commanders at the time and had been identified as less-than-stellar at what little of what they did. And they were golf pals of Baca and decided that they had nothing to loose if they were to get behind a Baca run for Sheriff. Block slips and falls in the bath tub and the LASD becomes the big looser as Baca gets elected.

    Stonich and Waldie KNEW who Lee Baca was. They opted, for personal gain, to throw the LASD under the bus. They are the last ones to complain about his lack of sense. EVERYONE knew he had no sense! No surprise there! They signed on for the ride in the toilet bowl. They should shut the f-up, collect their big fat monthly LACERA check and then go back under their rock!

    And now he’s saying he was sick? His lack of performance was due to an illness? He was impaired???

    I’ve got news for the 9th circuit: this guy was impaired from the get-go. This is NOTHING NEW. Like Stonich and Waldie do on a monthly basis – take it to the bank!

  • Mr. Baca may be all it is said to be, and some, and yes, thanks to him the opportunist politician named McBuckes took over. McBuckles and his constitutional fake attorneys pro career criminals who encourage ICIB to violate the US constitututuon when a deputy is suspected of a crime. McBuckles has damaged the sheriff department and many of its employees in three years far more than Mr. Baca did in 20 years. There are many deputies and their families suffering, lack of income, lack of housing and lack of health, that will eventually but surely will kill deputies. (Stress related diseases, such as hyperrtention, stroke, heart attack and yes cancer due to the high levels of toxins damaging soft tissue organs) For the above and the fact Hillary Clinton was not even charged for doing more that hiding a criminal, Mr. Baca should be left alone. You can disagree with me and I respect you. That is my opinion.

  • Lindsey for Sheriff!!!!!! Time for McDonnell, Teran, Denham, and all the other clowns to go. McDonnell is a mess and a typical two faced politician.

  • I certainly appreciate the inside knowledge. But the thing that really made Baca was the stuff you eluded to but left out. The kind of stuff Witness la wallows in, identity politics, Gloria Molina, the La Times etc. Baca was their guy , affirmative action Sheriff , let’s not forget that ( they certainly want to)

  • Unknown, the Lindsey tapes are impressive. Talk about having his finger on the pulse of LASD. It makes you realize how much McDonnell = McGoo.

  • Bob Lyndsey is unique, and the best chance the sheriff department has to serve the communities and its employees fairly. Bob knows the department and has suffered under both corrupt regimes personally. Because of that he has the passion and the right motivation. No person should be place in jeopardy by corrupt law enforcement application of the law. The justice lady should be blind, but time and time again, the lady is no wearing her Blindfold. McBuckles and his regime apply justice to themselves and to the rest, they apply the policy or the law.

  • So true! But you have to remember no one over the rank of Captain gets discipline. Affairs, pregnancies, DUIs, stolen cars, all under McBuckles term and nothing, nothing is done.

  • Dear “Unknown,”

    You and I communicated over the issue of making accusations about individuals’ personal lives, which WitnessLA does not allow. And yet you continued to do it. If I find you’ve included such things in your comments again, I’ll block you from the site.


  • why was deputy Baca promoted and fast-tracked at LASD??
    what i have read is that old-fashioned nepotism cleared the path.
    Saul Block, who was Sheriff Sherm’s brother, was enamored of the slender young Baca and lobbied the Sheriff to keep pushing Baca up the ladder.

  • And then there is Tanaka and what he did to LASD under the nose of Baca. Baca owns every inch of Paul’s Tsunami path of corruption.

  • Spade, I know plenty of people who went to Baca and warned him of the path of destruction Tanaka was making through LASD. They had a strange symbiotic relationship. Perhaps Celsete will devote a chapter in her book to it because no one could figure it out at the time. Many execs exited LASD shaking their heads in frustration.

    Others didn’t care as long as they got their promotions.:(

  • Let’s not forget the underlings aka “Yes Men” who only emboldened Baca & Tanaka. My aka for them are “Spineless” with no balls. Some got away and some have prison dates. Oh well.

  • You are partly correct. Baca, just like many before and after him, served as creative window dressing in an almost exclusively all white political patronage system. We have the same system in place today, and all you have to do is look at the org chart, and look at the career paths of those in it.

  • Before you get all giddy with one candidate, perhaps you should give some background on the shaky cellphone videos you linked. There was a sheriff candidate interview held at ALADS headquarters, and all three candidates showed up and were interviewed one on one. In the interest of full disclosure, perhaps you should show all three candidates answering the same question for comparison purposes. ALADS may just release the entire interviews for all to see and compare, which would be the right thing to do.

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