L.A. judge has ‘false alarm’

GLASAA asks for new judge on the case
Tuesday, July 1, 2003

LOS ANGELES - Alarm association officials here are calling for the removal of the Los Angeles County judge who will decide the fate of the police department’s controversial non-response policy after Los Angeles police officers dubbed an incident with his home security system a false alarm.

Attorneys for the Greater Los Angeles Security Alarm Association in mid-May filed a verified statement of disqualification to have Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe removed from the case because, they contend, Yaffe became “personally involved in the factual issues involved in this case,” said Arthur Fine, attorney for GLASAA.

On May 11, Yaffe was attending a Mother’s Day celebration at his daughter’s home when a relative notified him that his home security system had sent an alarm to the central station. Yaffe drove home to check the situation and found nothing amiss in the windows of his breakfast room, where the alarm panel indicated was the trouble spot, and called the alarm company to come and inspect the system for errors, according to court documents.

When he tried to reset the alarm, he discovered that a window screen had been dislodged from the frame and had to be put back into position before the alarm would reset, a measure which he learned from the alarm company that was part of how the system worked when an attempted break-in had occurred.

After arriving home from returning to his daughter’s house, Yaffe found a notice from the LAPD notifying him that police had inspected and deemed the incident a false alarm. When they returned to inspect the house on Yaffe’s request, the police filed a preliminary investigation form for an attempted burglary and, at press time, were trying to arrange appointments for both Yaffe and his wife to be fingerprinted for comparison to other fingerprints that might be found on the windowscreen.

The incident occurred days after Yaffe had rendered a preliminary decision that denied the alarm association’s request for an injunction to stop the implementation of the LAPD’s verified response policy, and just days before he was expected to issue a final ruling on the matter.

According to Fine, the unusual circumstances of the incident, if under the review of a third party “reviewing any judgement, might believe that he had been personally affected by the experience,” he said. “By law, he can’t consider what happens to him personally, since that’s not the evidence.”

At press time, GLASSA and the city were expecting to select a neutral judge to decide whether Yaffe should continue presiding over the case.