Two former Los Angeles County district attorneys have lent their support to a legal action by the union representing Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys to prevent what the rank and file maintain is the hiring of unqualified candidates, including some from the Public Defender’s Office, by current District Attorney George Gascón.
Steve Cooley and Jackie Lacey submitted sworn declarations Wednesday backing the Association of Deputy District Attorneys’ request for a preliminary injunction against Gascón and the District Attorney’s Office which asks a judge to order the defendants to refrain from hiring public defenders or other candidates deemed unqualified under Civil Service rules for the deputy district attorney grade positions of 2 through 5.
Earlier this year, Gascón hired former longtime Deputy Public Defenders Alisa Blair, Tiffiny Blacknell and Shelan Joseph. Blacknell and Joseph were hired for grade 4 positions and Blair to a grade 3 slot although none took and passed competitive exams as required by Civil Service rules and the County Charter, the Los Angeles Superior Court petition states.
A hearing on the preliminary injunction is scheduled Wednesday before Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff.
The 64-year-old Lacey, who was District Attorney from 2012-20, said that during that time there were no lateral transfers of deputy public defenders or alternate public defenders into deputy district attorney positions.
“The lack of any lateral transfers of deputy public defenders or deputy alternate public defenders into positions of deputy district attorneys for the past 15 years is because the skill sets for public defenders and alternate public defenders are different than those of prosecutors,” Lacey said. “They are not similarly situated professionals.”