Tory Lanez’s legal team continue to make last-ditch efforts to keep the rapper out of prison as his sentencing date looms.
According to Law&Crime reporter Meghann Cuniff, Lanez’s lawyers, Matthew Barhoma and Jose Baez, filed a motion to disqualify Judge David Herriford, accusing the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge of showing favoritism to the prosecution.
Herriford presided over Tory’s two-week trial in December, which culminated in him being found guilty on three felony counts over the 2020 shooting of Megan Thee Stallion. Herriford also rejected the rapper’s motion for a new trial in May.
In their appellate petition, which was filed shortly after their new trial motion was dismissed, Barhoma and Baez cited three examples of Herriford’s “partiality” during the two-day hearing last month.
They claimed the judge directed them to present their arguments in the order he wanted instead of the order they wanted; didn’t allow them to call witnesses for live testimony; and interrupted them and cut them off when they were arguing.
“Conversely, the judge gave the People a full and fair opportunity to present argument uninterrupted, even when the case cited by the People did not stand for the proposition that they advanced,” the defense attorneys wrote.
“Together, these facts reveal such a high degree of favoritism or antagonism as to make fair judgment impossible,” they added. “Given these facts, a reasonable person would fairly entertain doubts concerning the judge’s impartiality. As a result, disqualification is required.”
Anticipating Barhoma and Baez would turn to the appellate court in an attempt to disqualify him, Herriford provided a “verified answer” in a written order during the second day of the hearing on Lanez’s motion for a new trial.
“I am not prejudiced or biased against or in favor of any party to this proceeding or their counsel,” he wrote. “All rulings made by me in this action have been based upon facts and arguments officially presented to me and upon my understanding of the law. … All statements made by me and all actions taken by me in this proceeding have been done in furtherance of what I believe were my judicial duties.”
According to Cuniff, the filing itself has not affected Lanez’s scheduled sentencing, which is due to take place on June 13. The petition has sat untouched for nearly three weeks and it’s unclear if the court will consider it before Lanez’s sentencing.
The update comes shortly after prosecutors filed a motion last month calling for Tory Lanez to receive a hefty prison sentence.
Deputy District Attorneys Kathy Ta and Alex Bott argued the Canadian rapper “demonstrated a high level of callousness” when he allegedly fired five shots at Megan Thee Stallion’s feet “without any justifiable provocation or reason,” and should therefore be punished accordingly.
Ta and Bott are expected to provide their exact sentencing recommendation in a more expansive memorandum on Tuesday (June 6). If Judge Herriford sides with the prosecution, he will legally be able to sentence Tory to more than the middle range of the maximum, which is 22 years and 8 months in prison.