Prosecution granted retrial on all hung counts in James Heaps case
Former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps is pictured. Heaps, who was convicted in October 2022 on various counts of sexual misconduct and sentenced to 11 years in prison in April, will be retried for the remaining nine counts that were deadlocked. (Daily Bruin file photo)
Nov. 3, 2023 2:41 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 5 at 10:17 p.m.
BURBANK, Calif. – A judge granted the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office a retrial on all hung counts remaining against former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps on Friday.
Judge Michael D. Carter informed prosecuting attorney Danette Meyers and Heaps’ attorney Tracy Green of his decision to deny the defense’s motion to dismiss a retrial, allowing the prosecution to retry the nine deadlocked charges from Heaps’ trial last year.
The charges are three counts of sexual battery by fraud, four counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and two counts of sexual exploitation of a patient. The jury in the initial trial voted 9-3 in favor of guilty for all but two of the charges.
Meyers previously informed Carter and the defense Aug. 28 of the DA’s intention to retry the counts.
Heaps was sentenced to 11 years in state prison April 26 after he was found guilty in October 2022 on three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person. He was found not guilty on seven counts, including three counts of sexual battery by fraud, three counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and one count of sexual exploitation of a patient.
Carter said during the hearing that his decision aims to provide both the victims and Heaps closure by rehearing the hung counts.
Green said she believes Carter did not balance the rights of the victims and Heaps equally.
“The jury decided that the government didn’t meet its burden of proof, and they were stuck,” Green said. “They were hung, and the system worked exactly like it’s supposed to work. And so I think in my view, those charges should be dismissed.”
Alternatively, Meyers said during the hearing that she was worried that if Carter did not grant the motion for retrial, victims may not receive closure.
“We don’t want another Tyndall situation,” Meyers said during the hearing.
George Tyndall was a former University of Southern California gynecologist who died Oct. 5 while awaiting trial on 27 criminal counts of sexual misconduct, according to the LA Times.
In May, Heaps appealed the court’s conviction of sexual battery and penetration, and the case is still pending in the state Courts of Appeals. Green said Carter’s granting of the retrial now creates the possibility of two cases occurring at the same time if the state Court of Appeals chooses to hear the case.
The court will reconvene Nov. 13 to allow for the defense to submit a motion to continue. After the motion is heard, the court will set a trial schedule expected to start in the new year, after Carter granted the defense a time waiver, extending the time before trial beyond the 45-day period previously agreed upon by the two parties.
UCLA Health declined a request for comment.
Jennifer McGrath, an attorney representing Heaps’ accusers, said the court’s decision was in the best interest of justice.
“It’s important that both sides get the opportunity to actually get finality on this and get a ruling from a jury,” McGrath said. “It’s so important for the public to become aware of these issues and have an understanding that these things can happen even with a trusted physician.”