LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A defense attorney says the judge in the Reginald Denny beating case should be disqualified because his fiancee served as secretary to former District Attorney Ira Reiner. The judge says that doesn't make any difference.

James Gillen said in court papers Tuesday that the relationship creates a conflict of interest for Superior Court Judge John W. Ouderkirk. Reiner has been called to testify in a pretrial hearing to discuss alleged discriminatory prosecution in the Denny case.

In court papers filed today, Ouderkirk denied that his engagement to Sherry Perkins, who was Reiner's executive secretary, makes him biased and unable to continue presiding over the highly charged case. The judge said he had clearly disclosed the relationship in October and it was too late to challenge the matter now.

Ouderkirk also denied having a social relationship with Reiner.

The dispute over Ouderkirk's objectivity will be reviewed by another judge, who will decide whether Ouderkirk will continue to preside. A hearing date was scheduled for Tuesday.

Three black men are awaiting trial on attempted murder charges. Denny, a white truck driver, was pulled from his rig and beaten in the opening moments of the riots last year. The beating was videotaped by a news helicopter.

Ms. Perkins was Reiner's executive secretary when he was in office and is now executive secretary to an assistant district attorney. Reiner was prosecutor when Denny's alleged attackers were charged; he later bowed out of a re-election bid.

In his filing, Gillen agreed that the defense did not object to Ouderkirk when his relationship with Ms. Perkins was disclosed. But Gillen said the relationship now is relevant because Reiner is now a witness in the case.