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Menendez Marriage Plan Sets Off Feud Between Judges

July 2, 1996 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The impending marriage of convicted murderer Lyle Menendez set off a feud between two judges Monday, with one promising to perform the wedding in jail after the other blocked a courthouse ceremony.

Superior Court Judge Nancy Brown said she was ``offended″ by Judge John Reid, who intervened last week while she was on vacation to cancel her order for Menendez to be brought to her court for a wedding Monday.

Brown called the Menendez murder case ``an American tragedy,″ and said she had no philosophical qualms about performing the marriage of Lyle to Anna Erikkson.

She said she would have the ceremony in jail after she finished her work Monday, but the Sheriff’s Department scuttled her plans. Menendez failed to follow a rule that the sentencing judge must be asked to perform the ceremony, Menendez’ attorney Leslie Abramson said.

Instead of asking Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg, Abramson made the request to Brown.

Abramson said Weisberg has a policy of not performing marriages, and Lyle does not want to be married by Weisberg, who presided over the trial in which he and his brother Erik were convicted of murdering their millionaire parents.

``Why would he want to be married by the judge who has treated these two defendants the worst of any in the history of his career?″ she said.

Ms. Erikkson, 30, was Lyle’s pen pal and attended most of his second trial. She would not talk with reporters when she appeared in court Monday.

Brown said she found out about Reid’s order when she returned from a European vacation over the weekend. She said she called Reid and he said he objected to having a defendant married at taxpayers’ expense.

``I told Judge Reid I was offended. I am offended,″ she said, noting it was the first time in her 28 years on the bench that another judge had overridden her in such a manner.

``He said it was to protect me from the Commission on Judicial Performance for marrying a defendant at taxpayers’ expense,″ she said.

Reid would have no comment, said court spokeswoman Jerianne Hayslett.

Brown said he did not specify who was going to complain or what additional expense would be involved, since she planned to do the ceremony on her lunch hour without charge to anyone.

The judge noted that the brothers were to be sentenced Tuesday and Lyle wanted to be married before he leaves for state prison.

``I felt in this case we are dealing with an American tragedy,″ Brown said. ``Nothing that has happened can be undone and tomorrow I assume Judge Weisberg will be sentencing the defendants as he should do.″

Lyle, 28, and his brother, Erik, 26, were convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of their entertainment executive father, Jose, and their mother, Kitty. They told of being sexually and psychologically abused throughout their childhood and have said in recent interviews they are consumed with remorse and self-hatred.

Brown said she would not allow reporters to be present at the wedding because ``a marriage is a very private thing, a very personal thing, particularly in these circumstances.″