Monday Morning Memo for November 29, 2021

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KTLA: Flash mob strikes in smash-and-grab theft at Nordstrom store in The Grove

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KTLA: Flash mob strikes in smash-and-grab theft at Nordstrom store in The Grove

Police say about 20 people were involved in a smash-and-grab incident at the Nordstrom store in The Grove Monday night.

The flash mob struck the Fairfax District department store around 10:45 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
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Hundreds of Murder Victims’ Families Are Abandoned by Gascón at Parole Hearings

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Hundreds of Murder Victims’ Families Are Abandoned by Gascón at Parole Hearings

By Kathleen Cady

On November 2, Michel and Ellen Shane attended the first parole hearing of the man who intentionally and deliberately murdered their precious 13-year-old daughter, Emily. Notably absent from the parole hearing was a prosecutor from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. This void meant that no one was there to represent Los Angeles residents’ public safety. More important for Emily’s parents, they were deliberately kept in the dark about the information that would be presented at the parole hearing of their daughter’s murderer, causing them undue grief and anxiety. This injustice was compliments of George Gascón.

Defendants convicted of murder receive a “life” sentence. However, defendants sentenced to “life” are entitled to a parole hearing in front of the Parole Board to decide if they are “suitable” for release.

Victims and their families (referred to in the parole hearing system as victim’s next of kin, or “VNOK”) have an absolute right to attend and meaningfully participate in parole hearings. Cal. Const., Article I, Section 28(b)(15) and (16); Penal Code Sections 3043(b)(1) and 3043.6. Victims and VNOKs should receive notice of the parole hearing three months before the hearing, although sometimes they receive notice only days before the hearing. Often, they experience anxiety such as depression, uncontrollable crying or insomnia, as soon as they get the notice until the conclusion of the parole hearing.

The district attorney’s office is the sole representative for the interests of the people at a parole hearing. Penal Code Section 3041.7. The prosecutor has the responsibility to speak on the facts and give an opinion about whether parole is appropriate. Cal. Code of Regs., title 15, Section 2030(d)(2). Prosecutors can challenge an inmate’s sanitized version of the crime to ensure that the inmate is held accountable as to the true facts of the crime. Traditionally prosecutors, although not attorneys for the murder victim’s family, ensure victim’s interests are represented because the victims’ rights align with the prosecutor’s role as guardian of public safety.

District attorney’s offices in all California counties have attended and participated in parole hearings for over 40 years. Yet, on December 7, 2020, District Attorney Gascón made a radical departure from this norm. His new policy forbids prosecutors from attending parole hearings. Special Directive 20-1. Each month there are approximately 200 parole hearings for inmates convicted of crimes committed in Los Angeles County where the prosecutor is now MIA. The lack of a prosecutor attending a parole hearing means that no one is representing the people of Los Angeles County. Prosecutors are forbidden from objecting to any currently dangerous criminal being released from prison. No other county in California has this void in representing the interests of the people in their county at parole hearings.

When Gascón took the unprecedented step of forbidding prosecutors from attending parole hearings, retired prosecutors stepped up to provide pro bono representation to victims/VNOKs. See Cal. Const., Article I, Section 28(c). Retired prosecutors, however, cannot possibly help all victims left in the wake of Gascón’s dereliction of duty. The result is that murder victim’s families are left alone in the parole process to face their loved one’s murderers unaided by experienced attorneys.

The California Department of Corrections and the Board of Parole provide access to relevant documents for upcoming parole hearings to all California counties’ district attorney’s offices. The information in these documents is what the Parole Board considers in deciding whether an inmate is suitable for parole. This information includes discipline actions, psychological evaluations, rehabilitative efforts, parole plans, letters of remorse, and other relevant documents. While the documents themselves are confidential, the information contained in the documents is discussed at the parole hearing, which is transcribed and publicly available. The inmate also expressly waives his or her right to confidentiality in the psychological interview and written evaluation. Prosecutors throughout California discuss the contents of the inmates’ records with victims/VNOKs to prepare them for what they will hear at the parole hearing. This minimizes the trauma and anxiety that victims/VNOKs have and gives them critical information they need to meaningfully form and express their opinion on release.

As further evidence of his blatant violation of victims’ rights, Gascón has taken the unprecedented step of restricting Los Angeles County prosecutors’ access to any information from inmates’ records, resulting in victims/VNOKs from Los Angeles County not being provided critical information to prepare for parole hearings. Victims/VNOKs from Los Angeles County are being treated differently than victims/VNOKs in any other county which is inequitable, unjust and violates victims’ rights to justice and due process, the bedrock of Marsy’s Law. Cal. Const., Article I, Section 28. This disparity has been going on for months.

On November 9, the relatives of the La Bianca family attended the parole hearing of Leslie Van Houten, one of Manson’s notorious followers. Although the La Bianca family has attended many parole hearings, this will be the first hearing they will attend without a prosecutor. It is also the first time they have not been provided information regarding Van Houten’s recent behavior and current psychological evaluation.

Gascón’s policies are a slap in the face for Emily Shane’s parents, the families of all the Manson murder victims and all Los Angeles County victims/VNOKs. Although the Shane and La Bianca families have a pro bono attorney representing them, they have been deprived of information on how the convicted murderer has been progressing. No parent should ever have to go alone and uninformed to the parole hearing of the person who murdered their child. Nor should any relative of any murder victims be subjected to such a blatant disregard of their rights. Common decency and the Constitution require that they be helped through the process.

Kathleen Cady began her career as a prosecutor in 1989 and retired in 2019. She is one of several former prosecutors who are providing pro bono assistance to crime victims in response to Gascón’s policies.

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Daily News: LA County DA’s policies endanger public safety

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Daily News: LA County DA’s policies endanger public safety

By TODD SPITZER and STEVE COOLEY

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has enthusiastically embraced radical, pro-criminal, anti-law enforcement policies to fulfill his misguided and dangerous ideology. His policies have ratcheted down punishment to its bare minimum and significantly reduced the prosecution of crime. Murders, gang shootings, organized theft and crime rates have skyrocketed.

Gascón’s destructive policies are not only unnecessarily costing innocent human lives, but they have resulted in increased economic devastation for families and businesses, ranging from mom-and-pop shops to large retailers. Gascón’s devotion to his ill-informed criminal justice agenda has created a public safety crisis, as well as an economic sinkhole. People have been impacted and traumatized by violent crime, and some businesses have been forced to close stores altogether due to organized shoplifting.

The claim there is no link between the recent crime wave and the enactment of the most radical and far-reaching criminal justice “reform” measures ever implemented is shameless gaslighting, or at best, extreme ignorance. Gascón’s policies increase the recidivism rate, and his adoption of a no cash bail system — which has failed miserably in other states — is causing additional harm to needless victims.

Gascón’s blanket policies in the courtroom abandon victims by prohibiting any sentence enhancements or special allegations. At one point, he attempted to eliminate the charging of enhancements for hate crimes. This “one size fits all” approach eliminates the opportunity for judges to impose appropriate and lawful sentences. Gascón’s orders to his deputies not to seek appropriate bail, when the public has voted overwhelmingly to retain a bail system, is another example of a policy that endangers public safety.

Gascón has also abandoned victims’ next of kin at parole hearings. Imagine the trauma of the mother whose son was brutally beaten, stabbed, shot, stripped naked and left in the middle of the street, being forced to have to confront her son’s killer. Under Gascón’s twisted agenda, the mother is left to present the crime scene photos at a parole hearing all by herself. She must go alone against her son’s murderer and his attorney paid for by tax dollars. This is a real case. This is unacceptable.

The California Constitution mandates prosecutors to attend such hearings. The mother of the murdered victim, as well as the people of Los Angeles, have been abandoned by Gascón. Retired and former deputy district attorneys now assist victims in asserting and protecting their rights because Gascón’s policies are inherently averse to victims’ rights and concerns.

The justice system has plenty of advocates for criminals, including the public defender, the alternate public defender, the ACLU, the Innocence Project, Youth Offender Parole Clinic, Habeas Corpus Resource Center and various political front groups established by special-interest donors seeking to spread this same dangerous version of criminal justice. While always protecting defendants’ rights and upholding the Constitution, the elected district attorney should be an advocate for the people and committed to public safety. Gascón is neither.

Gascón has dismantled the Hard-Core Gang Division, wiped out 40 years of the District Attorney’s Office attending parole hearings on behalf of the people and murder victim’s next of kin and demolished the Major Narcotics Division and its wiretap capacity, which was solving gang murders and identifying drug cartel conspiracies. He has done away with High Tech Crimes’ capacity to conduct forensic computer analysis, leaving local law enforcement to fend for themselves.

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Monday Morning Memo for November 22, 2021

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He’s Remaking Criminal Justice in L.A. But How Far Is Too Far?

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He’s Remaking Criminal Justice in L.A. But How Far Is Too Far?

Last December, when George Gascón took over the largest local prosecutor’s office in the country, he made a complete break from the past. His inaugural speech as district attorney of Los Angeles County at once thrilled progressive activists and alienated many of the lawyers sizing up their new boss. Standing alone at a lectern as a pandemic precaution, Gascón put his hands to his forehead and half-bowed, yogi-style, to thank the judge who swore him in over a video connection. He flashed a smile and spoke in Spanish, his first language as a child growing up in Cuba, to honor his mother, who fled Fidel Castro’s Communist rule with his father and Gascón when he was 13.

Switching to English, Gascón, who is 67, acknowledged his long career in law enforcement. “You know, it was 40 years ago when I walked my first beat as a young Los Angeles police officer,” he said. “However, I am not the same man I was when I first put on the uniform.”

Then Gascón leveled an all-out attack on the status quo. The new district attorney described being arrested as “traumatic and dehumanizing,” lifting his hands for emphasis. “Our rush to incarcerate generations of kids of color,” he said, has torn apart “the social fabric of our communities.” Signaling that the police should expect new scrutiny, Gascón promised to review fatal shootings in the county by officers, going back to 2012.

He turned the argument for the “tough-on-crime approach” of other local law-enforcement leaders on its head, blaming their strategy for an eight-year rise in violent crime. He accused his opponents of making “unfounded and self-serving claims” about how more punishment increases public safety. “The status quo hasn’t made us safer,” he said, jabbing his fingers into the air.

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Daily News: California Attorney General Bonta, DA Gascon colluding to overturn death sentences, prosecutor alleges

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Daily News: California Attorney General Bonta, DA Gascon colluding to overturn death sentences, prosecutor alleges

District Attorney George Gascón and California Attorney General Rob Bonta are working in tandem as part of an apparent legal strategy that already has overturned the death penalty sentences of four Los Angeles County convicted killers, a high-ranking prosecutor said Tuesday.

On Nov. 5, Bonta filed notices of withdrawal in Los Angeles County Superior Court and deferred to the District Attorney’s Office habeas corpus petitions from the condemned inmates challenging their death sentences, records show.

In each instance, the District Attorney’s Office then told the court it conceded the inmates’ claims and asked the judge to vacate their death sentences. As a result, each inmate was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Attorney General’s Office has recently filed at least 20 other withdrawal notices leading Gascon critics to fear that more convicted killers will soon also have their death sentences vacated.

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KFI AM 640: DA and CA AG Bonta Colluding To Drop Death Penalty

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KFI AM 640: DA and CA AG Bonta Colluding To Drop Death Penalty

Michael Rushford – the founder, president, and CEO of the Criminal Justice League Foundation calls into the John & Ken Show at 4 pm to discuss CA Attorney General Rob Bonta and Los Angeles DA George Gascon coming together to overturn ALL Los Angeles death sentences – which is absolutely CRAZY.

According to the Criminal Justice League Foundation, on November 5th, Rob Bonta’s office issued several Notices of Withdrawal in AT LEAST four different death penalty cases. Gascon’s office then followed up in court stating that they agree and asked the judge to drop the death sentences and eventually re-sentence the murderers to life without parole sentences.

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Injustice in the Juvenile Justice System — Part II

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Injustice in the Juvenile Justice System — Part II

By Kathleen Cady

District Attorney George Gascón’s blanket “Youth Justice Policy” is retraumatizing victims whose cases were concluded years ago. Family after family has been told that the person who murdered their loved one and was sentenced to prison will be released.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds who commit exceptionally heinous and brutal crimes, who are repeat offenders, or whose crimes exhibit adult sophistication can legally be charged in criminal court. Prior to Proposition 57, the decision whether to keep the minor in juvenile court or transfer them to criminal court was made by the district attorney. Proposition 57, enacted by the voters in 2016, changed the law to allow the prosecutor to make a motion to transfer a minor to criminal court but required that a judge make the final decision.

Former minors (all of whom are now in the 20s or 30s) who were charged, convicted and sentenced in criminal court prior to Prop. 57 have been sent back to the juvenile court by the Court of Appeal with an order to the court to hold a retroactive transfer hearing. Although transfer motions had been filed in each of these cases before Gascon took office, Gascón has now determined that his policy of never sending juveniles to criminal court should apply retroactively. The result is that approximately 20 former minors who were convicted of gang murderers, sometimes of multiple murders, are now back in our communities having served only a few years in custody.

Gascón’s blanket policy is retraumatizing murder victims’ families. In addition, community safety is significantly endangered because gang members have become aware of Gascón’s policies. Gangs are now soliciting their youngest members to commit the most heinous crimes since these minors will serve little time.

One such defendant is Andrew Cachu. Cachu was just two months shy of his 18th birthday when he shot and killed 41-year-old Louis Amela outside a Palmdale restaurant in March 2015. Cachu was convicted by a jury who also found the murder and armed robbery was gang-motivated and involved use of a gun. Cachu was sentenced to 50 years to life which, under the Youthful Parole law (Penal Code 3051) would have made him eligible for parole after 20 years. Alisa Blair, who recently transferred to the district attorney’s office from a career in the public defender’s office, is now Gascón’s special advisor on Juvenile, Diversion and Collaborative Courts. She took over the Cachu case in May 2021. Marsy’s Law (Cal. Const. Article I, Section 28) provides that victims of crime have a constitutional right to be notified about all court proceedings and speak to the assigned prosecutor. Despite this, Blair never contacted the victim’s family. Blair did, however, have contact the defendant’s family. During a May 10 recorded jail phone call between the defendant and his mother, Cachu’s mother tells him, “Hi Mijo. You know who that was? … That’s Gascón’s special advisor … She’s the one I’ve been emailing back and forth … She looked at me like ‘Girl — I got you.”

In keeping with Gascón’s policies, Blair requested to keep Cachu (now age 24) in the juvenile system. The judge converted Cachu’s conviction to a juvenile adjudication and set it for a disposition hearing (similar to a criminal sentencing hearing). At a juvenile disposition hearing a prosecutor must present evidence to the court to enable the judge to determine the appropriate sentence. In the absence of evidence, a court cannot make the findings required to sentence the former minor. At Cachu’s disposition hearing, Blair did not present any evidence. Because of this, Cachu was released after spending just over six years in custody for a gang motivated armed robbery and murder. The judge stated during the hearing that Blair’s actions were intentional and her refusal to put on evidence left him with no legal ability to do anything other than release Cachu.

The victim’s family is devastated and feels abandoned by their district attorney, George Gascón.

Additional Ramifications of Gascón’s Youth Justice Policy

Gascón’s policy also mandates that juveniles can only be charged with the lowest possible crime and only one count per incident. Sentencing enhancements that reflect the gravity of the crime, such as the use of a weapon, infliction of great bodily injury, or committing the crime for the benefit of a gang, could affect whether the minor is detained (kept in custody) or whether the crime qualifies as a strike. But pursuant to Gascón’s policy, these allegations cannot be charged. Gascón’s policy means that if a minor robs several people at gunpoint, the most he can be charged with is one count of grand theft person. Not filing appropriate charges and enhancements also means that the case is not open to public. (Welfare and Institutions Section 676). This absurd policy prevents the public from learning about these heinous crimes, and gives the false impression that minors are not committing violent crimes.

Recently Blair has stated that the office’s new, as yet unwritten, policy will be that cases will only be filed for juveniles who commit murder and forcible sex crimes. In all other cases, charges will not be filed at all. Instead, juveniles will be “diverted” (placed on informal probation and charges dismissed). Not providing consequences to juveniles who commit armed robbery, car jackings, home invasion robbery or gang shootings gives the message that they can continue with their violent behavior.

Gascón’s policies have resulted in dangerous individuals being released from custody and has empowered minors to commit crime with little fear of consequences. His policies also provide a false narrative and misleading statistics that juveniles are not committing dangerous or violent crimes. Victims of crime demand justice. Our communities deserve to have an elected official that is dedicated to public safety.

Kathleen Cady began her career as a prosecutor in 1989 and retired in 2019. She is one of several former prosecutors who are providing pro bono assistance to crime victims in response to Gascón’s policies.
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Monday Morning Memo for November 15, 2021

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