CROWN POINT — During a contentious hearing Tuesday, Judge Diane Boswell declined to appoint a special judge in Jamal Washington's latest domestic battery case but ordered the prosecutor's office to return his electronics to him by Friday.

Washington, 45, a former Lake County councilman, said he told police about information on two cellphones, a computer and camcorder at the time of his arrest Jan. 30 and now suspects videos and audio recordings on them have been deleted.

Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Arnold said ownership of some of the property Washington has been seeking remains in dispute. 

Arnold accused Washington of using the dispute over property to continue to harass LaVetta Sparks-Wade, Washington's former political ally.

Washington, who left the council last year, is accused of beating and threatening to kill Sparks-Wade during a 16-hour ordeal Jan. 29 and 30 at her Gary home. Boswell previously ordered Washington to have no contact with Sparks-Wade.

Washington said he believed videos and audio recordings on the electronics he's seeking could be of evidentiary value.

Arnold said she had no problem turning the property over, but suggested she might have to obtain a search warrant. 

"We would have to get everything off (of the devices)," Arnold said.

Boswell replied, "No, you need to go to the house and look at it."

Washington shook his head back and forth as Lambert and Arnold approached the bench for a private discussion with Boswell. An inmate in the jury box got Washington's attention, and he began shaking his head in the affirmative.

Washington's attorney, Michael Lambert, asked Washington if he would give the prosecutor's office permission to search the electronics. Washington said he did.

Washington reiterated his suspicion that recordings were deleted.

Boswell said, "You work with Mr. Lambert on that."

Boswell denied Washington's request for a special judge.

She said Washington no longer had control of judicial budgets.

Previous litigation between the county's judges and council created no apparent conflict, she said.

Boswell also said she was not aware of previous conflicts between Washington and other judges.

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