A petition submitted by ColorofChange.org alleges that BART officer Tony Pirone "appears to have committed a serious crime" by punching Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, shortly before officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Grant at the Fruitvale station in Oakland early on New Year's Day.
This isn't Perry's first time in the national judicial spotlight. Perry, who's also an author, presided over the Anna Nicole Smith trial -- though not be confused with Judge Larry Seidlin, known for his pithy one-liners and occasional crying.
Perry did his best to bring seriousness back to the Anna Nicole proceedings. "I don't want to sensationalize this hearing any more than it has already been sensationalized," he said earlier this year.
That professionalism will come in handy as he presides over the highly anticipated BART shooting trial.
BART officer Johannes Mehserle, 27, is accused of fatally shooting Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Hayward man, on a transit platform on New Year's Day. Mehserle's lawyer says he meant to use his Taser, but pulled the trigger of his gun instead.
The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of "a high degree of political turmoil," according to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson. Near riots broke out in Oakland in the early weeks of the case.
Lynn Holton, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based state Judicial Council, told Bay City News that "Perry, a judge since 1992, is known for his experience in presiding over high-profile criminal cases. Before becoming a judge, Perry worked in private law practice and for the U.S. Department of Justice."
The trial is not expected to begin until late 2010.