Los Angeles DA George Gascon hit with new lawsuit: ‘Required prosecutors to unlawfully hide the truth’

A group of Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys (DDAs) on Monday filed a new lawsuit against the county and District Attorney George Gascon.

Deputy District Attorneys Peter Cagney, Richard Hicks, Mindy Page and Karen Thorp are accusing Gascon’s office of demoting them from their positions for expressing opposition to his resentencing policies.

“Each Plaintiff was removed from their position as a result of disclosing and/or refusing to engage in illegal activities as directed by their supervisors, including, but not limited to, George Gascon, Joseph Iniguez and/or Diana Teran,” the complaint filed in the LA County Superior Court states.

Plaintiffs allege that they were “subjected to adverse employment actions because they disclosed that the resentencing guidelines and directions they received from their supervisors were violations of the current state of the law, and/or refused to carry out unlawful directives and/or orders given to them by their supervisors.”

The Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Association (LAADDA), which has filed two lawsuits against Gascon, has argued that several of the DA’s directives violated state law, including one that blocked DDAs from filing strike prior enhancements in new cases and allegedly ordered prosecutors to “dismiss existing charges that [Gascon] personally disagreed with,” as LAADDA Vice President Eric Siddall previously told Fox News Digital.

In 2021, a judge blocked Gason’s policy aiming to block prosecutors from seeking longer sentences for repeat offenders under the state’s Three Strikes Law, which states that defendants convicted of any new felony after being convicted of previous felonies be sentenced “for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime,” or a minimum 25 years if they have two or more prior “strikes,” according to the county. The directive also blocked prosecutors from seeking longer sentences in several other types of cases.


District Attorney Gascón Deliberately Obstructs Justice for Victims

By Kathy Cady

April 24-30 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme is Rights, access, equity, for all victims. It underscores the importance of helping crime victims find justice by enforcing victims’ rights, expanding access to services, and ensuring equity and inclusion for all.

For crime victims in Los Angeles County, rights and access is now a rallying call. Since taking office, their elected District Attorney, George Gascón, has ignored their rights and limited their access. It is because of these actions victims of crime initiated the recall of George Gascón.

Crime Victims Have Constitutional Rights

We all know that criminal defendants have rights – we hear the Miranda admonition every time we watch a crime show.

But crime victims also have rights. (California Constitution Article I, Section 28, and Penal Code §679.02). Victims’ Constitutional Rights are known as Marsy’s Law Rights, named for Marsy Nicholas who was murdered by a former boyfriend.https://www.marsyslaw.us/marsys_story

First and foremost, victims have a right to justice and due process. (California Constitution, Article I, Section (b)). These rights are personal to each victim and apply to each case. The purpose of mandating victims’ rights is to ensure that they have a voicein the criminal justice system. (California Constitution Article I, Section 29(b)).

But rights are meaningless unless they are enforced. State law mandates prosecutors, law enforcement, and judges to faithfully protect these rights. (California Constitution Article XX, Section 3; Penal Code 679).

Over the course of Gascón’s term, he disregarded these rights and mandates. Upon taking his oath to uphold the law, he issued blanket policies ordering prosecutors to dismiss allegations in pending cases with no consideration for notifying victims as is required by law. (Special Directive 20-08). He ordered most conduct enhancements not be filed in new criminal filings. (Special Directive 21-01). He issued policies ordering prosecutors to keep all 16 and 17 year old juveniles charged with murder and other violent crimes in juvenile court, regardless of the nature of the facts of the case or record of the juvenile. (Special Directive 20-09). All of these policies ignored victims.

Victims who were given assurances that prosecutors would attend parole hearings with them, were abandoned because Gascón’s blanket policy prohibited prosecutors to participate in parole hearings. (Special Directive 20-14). Victims traumatized by crime, now must navigate the parole process alone.

Victims Have a Right to Receive Services to Help Them Heal

Victims have a right to receive services to help them heal. (Penal Code 13835(a) and Government Code 13950). For 40 years, Victim Service Representatives in the Bureau of Victim Services have been doing this important work. But “rights” are not “services.” Gascón confuses the two. Victims are traumatized by the crime. When their rights are violated, they are retraumatized by this new violation and by feeling that the criminal justice system has failed them. Gascón’s response to re-traumatizing victims by violating their rights is to offer them services. An analogy would be to deliberately violate a criminal defendants’ rights and then offer to give them therapy, rather than correcting the violation of their rights. The criminal justice system does not and should not work that way for defendants. It is offensive to treat victims that way.

When victims have been hurt by crime, they want justice and resources to help them heal. Justice means holding the offender accountable. Murder victims’ families and victims of forcible sex crimes, gang shootings, and other violent crimes usually want the defendant sent to prison for a long time so that they are safe and society is protected from further violence.

Another concern is Gascón’s appointment of Tiffiny Blacknell – a career public defender who has disparaged law enforcement and has advocated for abolishing all prisons, as the Interim Director of the Bureau of Victim Services in charge of all victim services in Los Angeles County.

Blacknell has said that she believes the entire criminal justice system needs to be dismantled. She has likened incarceration to caging people and expressed support for closing all prisons.

On one of her social media sites, Blacknell posted a picture of herself wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the following words: “THE POLICE ARE TRAINED TO KILL US.” Blacknell has called police “barbarians” and posted on a social media site, “[The police] were never supposed to protect us!!!! It’s not what they do.”

Former Prosecutors Network to Help Victims Assert Their Rights

Crime victims have a Constitutional right to have an attorney enforce their rights. California Constitution Article I, Section 28(c)(1). In January 2021, several former prosecutors started getting requests to represent crime victims whose cases were being negatively impacted by Gascón’s policies. An informal group called Marsy’s Law Attorneys formed to provide pro bono representation for victims. These attorneys can be contacted through marsyslawhelp@gmail.com.

Since January 2021, the Marsy’s Law attorneys have represented close to 300 victims. Most of these victims are next of kin and family of murder victims.

Families of murders victims have expressed that they feel abandoned by Gascón’s policies, and that their voices have been silenced. Gascón’s administration has now issued an edict that prosecutors and advocates are precluded from notifying victims about this group of former prosecutors. Gascón would even deny victims pro bono help from qualified and experienced attorneys who stand ready to help them assert their rights through the parole process.

Crime victims are now standing up against Gascón. It was crime victims who initiated the Recall DA George Gascón campaign. Victims deserve “rights, access, and equity for all victims” every day – not just during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. To honor victims’ voices and give them a forum to be heard, the Recall campaign is holding events every day during National Crime Victims’ Rights week and invite you to join us:

Monday, April 25 12 – 1 pm Pomona Courthouse

Tuesday, April 26 12 – 1 pm Hall of Justice, Los Angeles

Wednesday, April 27 12 – 1 pm Torrance Courthouse

Thursday, April 28 12 – 1 pm Antelope Valley Courthouse

Friday, April 29 12 – 1 pm Long Beach Courthouse

Saturday, April 30 Signing events throughout the County

Kathy Cady is one of several former prosecutors who are providing pro bono assistance to crime victims in response to Gascón’s policies.

ADDA VP Eric Siddall discusses the Avant killer’s sentence on John & Ken

Eric Siddall, the vice president of ADDA, on the John & Ken Show discusses why Jacqueline Avant’s killer sentenced to more than 150 years in prison. Eric explains that the lengthy sentence was possible only because of the ADDA’s injunction that struck down George Gascón’s attempt to eliminate sentencing enhancements.

Statement Regarding the Sentencing in the Case of People v. Maynor

Los Angeles,  April 19, 2022  –  ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall issued the following statement regarding the sentencing of Aariel Maynor in the shooting death of 81-year-old Los Angeles philanthropist Jacqueline Avant.

The ADDA’s injunction struck down Gascón’s illegal policies and forced him to follow the law.  It is the only reason Ms. Avant’s killer is going to state prison for 190 years.

Without that injunction, Avant’s killer would be eligible for parole in 21 years, despite his long criminal record and brutal conduct. Parole hearings not only mean a potential of early release, but they re-traumatize victims.

For Gascón now to claim that he’s responsible for today’s sentence is not only revisionist history, it’s completely false.

About The ADDA

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents over 800 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Thanks, But No Thanks, George Gascón

By James R. Bozajian, Calabasas City Councilmember

I am in receipt of your recent letter, inviting the Calabasas City Council to meet with you to discuss your vision for the District Attorney’s Office. For the following reasons, I must decline your request.

On the very day you assumed office, you announced a series of “reforms” seemingly designed with precision to turn the District Attorney’s Office upside-down. Your actions since then have only aggravated the negative effects of these ill-conceived measures.

You enacted these draconian policies without soliciting input from law enforcement, public officials, the general public, or even your own (experienced) prosecutors. Instead, you relied exclusively upon a cadre of hostile, extreme partisans whose sole objectives appear to have been to defund, demolish, and destroy our criminal justice system.

The ultimate result of which, simply put, is that Los Angeles County has become a vastly more dangerous place to live since you became its chief prosecutor.

Here in Calabasas, crime has soared to unprecedented heights. From 2020 to 2021, the crime rate jumped 35%. Residential burglaries doubled, leaping from 19 in 2020 to 42 in 2021. In the first two months of 2022, the crime rate has risen yet another 54%, and we have had an additional 10 residential burglaries. If the current patterns hold, then, crime in Calabasas will have doubled between 2020 and 2022, while residential burglaries will have tripled. These are the highest increases, by far, since Calabasas incorporated in 1991.

Your attitude toward serious and violent crime is epitomized by your mishandling of People v. Jeffrey Cooper (BA464633), a matter which originates out of Calabasas and has affected the lives of many in our community.

Defendant Cooper is charged with four serious/violent felonies: one count of Penal Code Section 288.7(b), oral copulation or sexual penetration by an adult of a child 10 years of age or under; and three counts of Penal Code Section 288(a), commission of a lewd or lascivious act by an adult on a child under the age of 14 years. If convicted of all charges, the defendant could be sentenced to a maximum term of 39 years to life in State Prison.

This case has languished for the past four years, having had various proceedings in court on 62 occasions. Meanwhile, Cooper is out of custody and wandering about town. The abject refusal of the District Attorney’s Office to handle this matter in a professional manner is deeply troubling, and undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system.

If the defendant here is guilty, his victims, their families, and the general public have the right to see that an appropriate punishment is exacted. Conversely, if the defendant is not guilty of these crimes, he has the right to be formally exonerated.

When I sent you a letter of inquiry about the status of the Cooper case last year, you neglected to reply. When I subsequently filed two requests pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Government Code 6250, et seq.), you arrogantly ignored them and failed to respond as required by law.

There is nothing “progressive” about endangering the welfare of the public you are sworn to protect. Your policies have jeopardized the safety of my city. You have jeopardized the safety of my city. And I therefore have no confidence in your willingness or ability to serve effectively as District Attorney.

It is abundantly clear that you are only now reaching out to local elected officials because you are in serious trouble. Which is a classic example of too little, too late. Your support has collapsed, as conservatives, liberals, and pretty much everyone in between understand the significant threats you have brought to our communities.

So, no thank you, Mr. Gascon. I will not provide you with any political “cover” to help salvage your position.


James R. Bozajian
Calabasas City Councilmember (1997 to present)
Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County (1990 to 2014)
Past President, Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys

COMPETENCE MATTERS: Gascón’s Incompetence and Poor Leadership Are Driving the Recall Against Him

By Eric Siddall

Leadership and competence matter when you are in charge. As George Gascón has been subjecting Los Angeles County residents to his massive social experiment, it has become painfully clear he lacks both those traits (San Francisco mayor, London Breed, tried to warn us about that). It’s this failure in leadership and competence, just as much as his short-sighted blanket policies, that has made him unfit to be Los Angeles County District Attorney.

From day one, Gascón has been more focused on political gamesmanship than on responsible or sustainable reform. His interviews are full of grandiose self-praise, inflammatory rhetoric aimed at his dissenters, and nausea-inducing absurdities (like claiming ending his ban on juveniles being tried as adults was not a “reversal” but him “continuing to evaluate” the situation). He rarely lets his guard down, but he did just that during a particularly illuminating moment in a December 2020 interview.

Fresh off winning one of the most publicized district attorney’s races in the country’s history, but still a few days before taking office, Gascón was clearly relaxed and able to speak more freely about his campaign and his future. Notably, he was on the cusp of issuing the most controversial directives in the history of the office. These directives drastically reduced consequences for virtually every criminal offense in the most populous county in the country. Knowing what he was about to implement, Gascón was questioned about his interest in higher political office. He said:

“If you look at my policy, when you see what’s coming out on Monday, you’ll say, ‘That’s the end of his political career! He’ll be a one-term DA!’”

Amidst nervous laughter, Gascón sheepishly added:

“I’m hoping not, by the way! Because the work will require more than one term, but I can tell you a lot of the people that are really close to me are very nervous [and they’re telling me] ‘Man, you’re pushing the envelope.’”

After this brief glimpse of significant insecurity, Gascón quickly pivots back to his favored disposition (self-grandiosity), and compares his endeavor to landing on the moon.

Gascón’s momentary acknowledgment of the potential massive political fallout is certainly striking for someone who “rarely expresses doubt” about his policies. What is even more striking, though, is that in this answer Gascón seems to understand the trepidation of those “really close” to him regarding his forthcoming directives. This is in stark contrast to his behavior since: vilifying and disparaging those who publicly criticize those same directives. Then again, Gascón has never really been about intellectual honesty so much as rigorous self-promotion.

Predictably, Gascón’s campaign pledges have become broken promises. You can see them here. Sixteen months into his term and we don’t have a “Crime Strategies Unit,” a “Gun Enforcement Unit,” a “Homelessness and Behavioral Health Unit” or a “Homelessness Advisory Board.” There are promises that appear to only exist as line items on his campaign website, including promising to “advocate” for creating a “Behavioral Health Justice Center,” “expanding” the “Los Angeles County Homeless Court Program,” and being “committed” to diverting money from jails to “parks in environmental deserts.” There are promises that amount to nothing more than a garbled mess of buzzwords, like “reducing eviction filings in order to help stabilize communities through cost-saving early interventions and through leveraging existing systems for support.

Gascón consistently piles on promises with all the legitimate commitment of a five-minute photo op, displaying one moment as though it is momentum. As though a to-do list is enough to get anything done.

It may be tempting to paint this recall as being about some policy disagreements, but the emptiness of these promises proves otherwise. The recall movement is rooted in Gascón’s pathological devotion to self-glorification. Over the past 16 months, this has been painfully manifesting itself through his inept policies and his incendiary words directed at anyone who disagrees with him.

Gascón’s short-lived ban on sentencing enhancements is a prime example. Sentencing enhancements are used to add custody time to crimes where the perpetrator has acted in a way that either increases the harm caused or the risk of harm, for example using a gun or causing serious physical injury. About 10 days after enacting the ban, he vigorously defended it, saying there would be no exceptions. Gascón even went so far as to say in a video interview that those who disagreed with him (including his own employees) “had a tremendous economic interest” in “continuing their journey of mass incarceration” and that the enhancements they were advocating for were “racist.

Just two days later, and under intense public pressure, Gascón abruptly retreated, evidently deciding to permit “racist” enhancements to be filed again.

Gascon’s tendency towards pomp over practicality was on display again only a few months later, when his own employees successfully won an injunction against him and his directives in Los Angeles Superior Court. There, a judge ruled that some of the most fundamental parts of his sweeping directives – including one banning his prosecutors from ever pursuing three strikes cases – violated California law. This awarded Gascón a most dubious distinction: his first official acts as district attorney were a series of commands to his own prosecutors to violate the law.

Even with the humiliation of being ordered to stop breaking the law, Gascón continued to stick by what was left of his ill-advised policy directives. And he did so despite a series of high-profile murders, follow-home robberies, and the now-infamous pictures of train tracks littered with delivery boxes. In the wake of all this terrible coverage, Gascón told CNN that those who disagree with his policies would have to wait until the next election, signaling he was going to stay the course. And he did, until Hannah Tubbs.

In that case, Tubbs violently molested a ten-year-old child in a Denny’s bathroom. Tubbs was just a few weeks away from being 18 years old at the time, but evaded capture for another eight years. In the interim, Tubbs continued to accumulate convictions in other states for battery, domestic violence, and drug possession. When Tubbs was finally brought to Los Angeles County in 2021 to face the molestation charges, Tubbs remained in juvenile court because of Gascón’s refusal to use the state law that permits requests to transfer a case from juvenile to adult court. Tubbs was then sentenced, at 26 years old, to custody time in juvenile hall and – perhaps most inexcusably – without any sex offender registration.

Gascón’s subsequent clumsy defense of the sentence was such a catastrophic embarrassment he drew condemnation across the journalistic spectrum, from Fox News to the Los Angeles Times. And, for a political party who is routinely criticized as being “soft on crime,” Gascón’s defense of the juvenile hall sentence was a gift to the opposing party. It’s no wonder that recently, when Democratic candidates for mayor of Los Angeles were asked to name something they supported about Gascón, not a single one of them dared say a positive word about him. Even progressive stalwart Kevin De León attacked one candidate for fundraising for Gascón, and then went after Karen Bass for having even shared the stage with Gascón when she announced her run for mayor, ominously saying, “you can’t run away from who you were with on day one.”

After Tubbs, Gascón was forced to reverse his hallmark ban on sending juveniles to criminal court. And while Gascón has attempted to defend some of his decisions as requiring a nuanced analysis, he can’t be bothered to give the same deference to the positions of those who may disagree with him. Like when he shamefully attempted to draw parallels between the prosecutors in the LADA’s office and officials in the Trump administration who detained children without their parents at the border. In a cheap political sleight of hand, he used the exact same language directed at those officials against his future employees, saying these prosecutors were indiscriminately keeping “kids” in “cages.” It should also come as no surprise that someone who throws around such incendiary language at his prospective employees is prone to retaliation and happily flouts civil service rules to hire political cronies.

No wonder 97.9% of his prosecutors supported his recall in a recent vote.

Remarkably, despite the reversals, the injunction, the terrible press, and his position as a political pariah, Gascón steadfastly maintains that in order to improve his relationship with his employees, it’s their responsibility to rethink things. Not his.

When the San Francisco Chronicle supported the recall of several school board members, it specifically cited competence, national embarrassment (like Gascón and the Tubbs case), and disregard for the law. As the Chronicle put it, “competence matters, even for progressives.” Gascón has been anything but competent. His flagrant disregard for the law, inept policies and his derision directed at his own employees have rendered him totally unfit to lead the office he now holds.

Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

An Expensive Political Insurance Policy

By Michele Hanisee

While running for office, George Gascón attacked Jackie Lacey’s record of declining to prosecute police officers who killed people and promised to go a step further and undo what he saw as her mistakes.

One of his first acts upon taking office was to convince the Board of Supervisors to give him more than $6 million over four years to hire outside counsel to re-examine closed cases where the District Attorney’s Office had previously cleared police officers. Gascón handpicked a criminal defense attorney named Lawrence Middleton for this purpose, deliberately ignoring the multitude of seasoned and ethical prosecutors already employed by the district attorney’s office who could have done this task at no additional expense to taxpayers.

The Middleton contract—while providing no benefit to Angelenos—did provide Gascón with something; political coverage. As Middleton was reviewing and rejecting cases previously examined and declined by prosecutors, Gascón could go back to his supporters and tell them that even Middleton did not recommend a filing. In essence, Middleton provided Gascón with political insurance on this delicate subject.

There was a slight hiccup before Middleton could start, as he was still actively representing criminal defendants. This ethical conflict of interest was resolved not by Middleton resigning from those cases, but by a judge summarily removing Middleton from representing several criminal defendants because of the “appearance of impropriety.” Middleton’s work of reviewing cases where officers in police shootings had been cleared by the highly experienced prosecutors working in the Justice System Integrity Division then commenced.

The standard of proof for any case to be filed is whether the case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. While George Gascón erased many laws enacted by voters and the California Legislature, he cannot erase the standard of proof in criminal cases. One year and 1.5 million dollars later, Gascón’s handpicked special prosecutor has reviewed four closed cases without filing of any charges.

Gascón has now announced that no charges will be filed in two additional cases. The reason provided by Gascón in his statement was that “the burden of proof for prosecution is high.” In other words, his critique of Lacey’s decision not to file the same cases was wrong. It was a political narrative that had no factual basis. Not surprising since Gascón has never tried a single case and has no practical experience on what it takes to prove charges in court.

The question now is, how much longer will Gascon continue to bill the taxpayers to the tune of $1.5 million per year to keep Middleton on staff as his political insurance policy.

Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.