The Signal: Prosecutors decry witness subpoena rule

Prosecutors are expressing frustration at an order from District Attorney George Gascón that prohibits them from compelling witnesses to testify in criminal trials.

The order, which was not included in Gascón’s publicly issued directives when he took office in December, was conveyed to deputy district attorneys via a private online meeting and email, according to prosecutors and records obtained by The Signal. In his directives published for public view in December, Gascón had prohibited “body attachment” subpoenas for crime victims, but the directive regarding witnesses was not made public.

Now, with criminal trials ramping back up and L.A. County’s murder rate on the rise, several deputy D.A.’s are saying the ban on what are known as body attachment subpoenas for witnesses is leaving their hands tied and allowing violent criminals to go free.

About three times a day on average — now that trials have resumed — a case is dismissed because the prosecutor can’t get a witness to appear for testimony, according to one Los Angeles County preliminary hearing judge who spoke with The Signal on the condition of anonymity.

“That’s just in one courtroom,” the judge added. “So, the number is way larger countywide.”


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