Yahoo News: L.A. County D.A. Gascón’s own prosecutors begin lining up to challenge him in 2024

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Standing in front of a packed room in Whittier, longtime line prosecutor Jonathan Hatami promised to “restore civility” to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and stand up for the crime victims he insists George Gascón has forgotten.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Maria Ramirez — who along with Hatami is one of at least 16 L.A. County prosecutors suing Gascón for retaliation or defamation — says she’ll bring her 30 years of experience to the helm of the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office, hoping to provide a calming presence after what she calls the “chaotic” nature of Gascón’s tenure.

And prosecutor John McKinney — fresh off winning a high-profile conviction in the murder of beloved rapper Nipsey Hussle — promised to work to undo what he sees as the chronic dysfunction in the office, caused by the divide between Gascón and his own staff.

After two years spent trashing Gascón in media appearances, courtroom hallways and lawsuits, many of the progressive prosecutor’s in-house opponents are now taking their complaints to the campaign trail. These three deputy district attorneys have already announced their intentions to deny Gascón a second term in office. Eric Siddall, vice president of the union representing rank-and-file prosecutors, has also said he is “considering” entering the fray.

Several sources have indicated that Nathan Hochman, the Republican nominee for California attorney general who was trounced by Rob Bonta last year, is also seriously mulling a run. One source said Hochman is expected to run as an independent and may announce soon.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly. Hochman did not respond to a call seeking comment.


ADDA Affiliates with The Marine Engineers Beneficial Association

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ADDA is now a member of the Coalition of County Unions and AFL-CIO

Los Angeles, March 22, 2023 – The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) has officially become affiliated with the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) to support the efforts and strengthen the voice of ADDA members. Through ADDA’s affiliation with MEBA, ADDA is also a member of the AFL-CIO. Additionally, through affiliation with MEBA, ADDA is now a member of the Coalition of County Unions (Coalition).

“The ADDA board is committed to providing the highest level of representation to the Deputy District Attorneys who make up our membership. Our affiliation with MEBA will strengthen our ability to further our goals,” said ADDA President Michele Hanisee.

ADDA joined MEBA to benefit ADDA members. MEBA permits the ADDA Board to retain complete autonomy over the affairs of the Association. This affiliation will strengthen our organization and give our members a stronger voice. Now more than ever, working Deputy D.A.s need the strength and support of the larger organized labor community. Affiliation with MEBA achieves that goal while ensuring that the Board of Directors retains autonomy over the affairs of the Association.

“Affiliating with MEBA, the AFL-CIO, state federations and the Coalition isn’t just the right thing to do — it is essential in our struggle against the mismanagement and incompetence of the current District Attorney,” said ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall.

As the newest member of the Coalition, ADDA joins a number of other MEBA-affiliated unions, including the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), the Association of Public Defender Investigators (APDI), the California Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), the Los Angeles County Lifeguards Association (LACOLA), and the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA).

About The ADDA

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys working for the County of Los Angeles. 

Gascon’s Decision to Gut Office’s Special Victims Unit is Case Study in Incompetence

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By Ryan Erlich

In early December, our office held its first post-pandemic “in-person” training seminar.

George Gascón showed up, ostensibly to introduce us to a new class of recently hired deputies. He was late. He had a cameraman in tow (because he’s starring in a documentary about himself). No one clapped when he was introduced… except for a few members of what he calls his “executive team.” He wasn’t prepared. He mangled the names of many of the new hires. And when he finished his brief “comments,” he scanned the room and asked — out loud and to no one in particular — “what do I do now?”

Great question, George.

After two years of staggering administrative incompetence, managerial chaos, mounting legal bills, and plummeting approval ratings, what does George Gascón do for an encore?

File to run for re-election, of course. Which he did on December 28, 2022.

Like a shark that swims to stay alive, Gascón must believe that running again is the only way to stay politically relevant or, at the very least, seem important at cocktail parties.

Renown over results. That’s his trademark.

For the next year, the most treacherous place in Los Angeles County will surely be the space between candidate Gascón and a TV camera.

But the situation is far worse behind the scenes.

More than 100 attorneys have left the District Attorney’s Office since Gascón took over. Some were respected and experienced DAs who decided to retire earlier than anticipated. Others left to work as prosecutors in other jurisdictions.

Refilling the ranks has been hard. Hiring new deputies is, for the first time in a very long time, a real challenge. Many aspiring prosecutors don’t want to work for Gascón. And even the let’s-change-it-from-the-inside public defenders aren’t interested in boarding a sinking ship.

But our numbers aren’t the only things that are down. So are our spirits. We are beat up, ground down, stretched thin, and short-staffed. Morale is low, especially for those of us who still love the job because of, or sometimes in spite of, what it was, what it is, and what we know it could be.

If you ask my colleagues, I’m sure some would say that our chief complaint about Gascón is that he’s often wrong on policy and the law. But he is also an epic failure as an administrator, leader, and manager. Why? Because he cares more about his own political future than anything else, including public safety and employee well-being.

Here’s an example.

Four weeks ago, a news outlet published an internal memo, now almost a year old, from the managers of our Victim Impact Program (“VIP”), which includes the units in our office that handle domestic violence and sexual abuse cases. These managers are more than just administrators; they are subject matter experts, mentors, and highly trained, experienced trial lawyers.

Their memo, which was addressed to key decisionmakers in Gascón’s administration, warned that “[c]ritical staffing shortages, combined with drastically increasing caseloads and additional work requirements… are creating operational and organizational risks with a significant potential for negative public safety impacts.”

In other words, if the office doesn’t flood these important units with resources and personnel, the most vulnerable victims and their loved ones will suffer. And some could end up dead.

Less than 24 hours later, Gascón announced that he was dissolving VIP and gutting those units.

Even now, almost a month after the initial rollout (and rollout is a generous term; it was more like a “Dear John” letter left on the mantel), practical details are hard to come by.

In videoconferences and telephone calls across the county, Gascón and his “executive team” seem to be making it up as they go along. (Un)surprisingly, few of the managers assigned to implement these changes knew they were coming.

Our union, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (“ADDA”), immediately asked to meet with the administration to discuss these changes. Since then, we have made four separate requests for 35 basic items of bargaining-related information, including pre- and anticipated post-change caseloads; the names and work locations of affected deputies; information about what, if anything, the office is doing to attract and hire new deputies; and the names, titles, and qualifications of the people who came up with this scheme. Gascón and his team haven’t responded to any of them.

On March 7, we participated in what was supposed to be a two-hour labor-management Zoom meeting on this topic. Gascon’s representative cut it down to an hour even before we began the discussion. And over the course of that truncated hour, his representative couldn’t answer some of our most basic questions, like who decided to implement this plan or why the administration decided to do it on the day after the managers’ memo leaked to the press.

We were scheduled to meet with the administration yesterday, March 16. Gascón’s people canceled that meeting less than four hours before it was set to begin. This was a date that they chose, not us. In retrospect, we shouldn’t be surprised: many of Gascón’s managers still can’t answer the simplest questions about what comes next.

But here’s what we have learned about Gascón’s intentions from other sources, including our members. In addition to dissolving VIP, Gascón does not intend to throw any new resources or deputies at these cases. He intends to move deputies out of these units while cutting managerial support by at least 50%. He intends to consolidate control over these units downtown, where his political cronies can better punish dissent, prevent leaks, head off bad press, and bolster Gascón’s “brand” as he begins his reelection campaign. He also intends to hand some of these incredibly difficult and sensitive cases off to line prosecutors who aren’t trained to handle them. And, of course, he is moving many of the managers who wrote the memo out of these units; some will be pushed out of management altogether in yet another act of retaliation.

In the end, Gascón’s approach will lead to predictably disastrous outcomes for the county’s most vulnerable victims and will most likely increase caseloads for the already overworked attorneys who remain committed to this work.

Some in his administration have said as much. In rare moments of candor, they have conceded that Gascón’s scheme will endanger victims, make it more likely that cases will be mismanaged, and further compound the ongoing mistreatment of VIP deputies. Regrettably, these same administrators are either too weak, too afraid, or too comfortable in their current assignments to speak those truths directly to Gascón.

So why put these cases and their vulnerable victims at risk, especially when eliminating VIP was not one of the seven targeted recommendations in the leaked manager memo?

The answer is simple and predictable: because George Gascón is running for reelection.

This scheme is a political fix, dreamt up by someone who has never prosecuted a single case let alone a case involving domestic violence or sexual abuse. For ten months, Gascón sat on an incendiary memo that spelled out, in data-driven detail, the pressing need to ease the strain on VIP deputies and managers. And for ten months, he didn’t do a damn thing… until that explosive memo leaked.

And when that leak came, Gascón threw a handful of managerial spaghetti on the wall and hoped that it would stick. He did it to control the political narrative. He did it because he wanted to “get in front” of a harmful political story, one that is, at base, about his own managerial incompetence. He did it because he realized that ignoring the memo’s qualitative and quantitative criticism looked bad for him, especially when one considers that the objective criticism came from prosecutors who know a lot more about these issues than he and his “executive team” ever will. He did it because he hoped voters and the press would be gullible enough to accept his claim that he was “expanding” these units, not eliminating them.

This is Gascón the Manager in a nutshell. Petty and thin-skinned. Chasing re-election at the expense of public safety.

Gascón’s scheme is scheduled to “go live” today, March 17. It shouldn’t.

Ask Gascón to immediately stop this dangerous and unnecessary “reorganization.” Tell him to go back to the drawing board, to solicit real feedback from affected deputies, managers, frontline victim advocates, detectives and investigators, community groups, and – most importantly – the victims of these crimes and their families. After all, they’re the ones who will suffer the long-term consequences of Gascón’s short-term, selfish thinking.

Because when this whole thing blows up in his face, the results will be tragic. Those who have committed the most heinous crimes – rapists, child molesters, and domestic abusers – will get another break while the county’s most vulnerable victims are revictimized, yet again, by the man elected to protect them.<

The downside risk is too great to stay silent.

Ryan Erlich is a Board Member of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA), the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys working for the County of Los Angeles.

George Gascón Rejects ADDA Request to Reconsider Dismantling Victim Impact Program

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Los Angeles, March 16, 2023 – Today, with only a few hours’ notice, District Attorney George Gascón canceled a meeting that his staff had scheduled a week ago with the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the request by the ADDA to reconsider his decision to dissolve the Victim Impact Program (VIP).

VIP is a division of specially trained attorneys who prosecute the most sensitive cases in the office, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, hate crimes, sex crimes, and stalking. Gascón’s planned reorganization would reduce the number of experienced lawyers handling these cases.

“This decision by Gascón to gut this essential unit is rash, self-serving, and retaliatory,” said ADDA President Michele Hanisee. “It will make victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse less safe, and in many cases, put their lives in danger. But what do you expect from a guy who has never tried a case or had to help a traumatized crime victim navigate the court process.”

At a time when reported incidences of domestic violence and sexual abuse are at dangerously high levels, Gascón’s cuts will:

  • Reduce the number of attorneys with the specialized training and experience needed to handle such cases;
  • Increase caseloads for the already overworked attorneys assigned to prosecute cases involving sexual abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, and hate crimes;
  • Shift responsibility for handling many of these cases to prosecutors who are not trained to handle them;
  • Remove the most experienced domestic violence and sexual abuse prosecutors from courthouses across the county;
  • Lead to predictably disastrous outcomes for the county’s most vulnerable victims.

These changes effectively transfer Deputy District Attorneys to give the appearance of making a change, but in fact, reduce the number of prosecutors that handle these delicate matters.

“No one outside of George Gascón’s insular and inexperienced executive team thinks this is a good idea,” said ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall. “This level of mismanagement and incompetence is typical of Gascón. His stubborn refusal to pause or rethink this petty power tantrum is arrogant, irresponsible, and a threat to public safety.”

In April 2022, managers in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Impact Program (“VIP”) sent George Gascón and his executive team a detailed, data-driven memo warning the administration in no uncertain terms that people would suffer and die if he didn’t flood those units with additional resources and personnel.

On February 15, 2023, the managers’ memo leaked to the media. Less than 24 hours later, Gascón dissolved the units and retaliated against many of the managers who wrote the memo. Gascón’s dangerous reorganization will take effect tomorrow.

About The ADDA

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys working for the County of Los Angeles.

ADDA VP Eric Siddall on Dr. Phil

A Los Angeles County prosecutor said Monday progressive DA’s like George Gascon don’t have any solutions beyond “a hope and a prayer” that criminals won’t break the law.

“Progressive District Attorneys like Los Angeles County DA George Gascon are under attack due to what many claim is a pro-criminal agenda that emboldens criminals, leaves residents unsafe and victims abandoned,” Dr. Phil observed on his show. “Now, Eric Siddall is a current Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles County, and says George Gascon has hijacked the DA’s office and placed the rights of criminals above those of victims. Now, that’s a bold statement, Eric.”

“Well, it’s also true,” Siddall replied. “Look, I’m the vice president of the Association of Deputy DA’s. We represent the line of prosecutors who are seeing the effects of George Gascon’s policies. 98% of our prosecutors at the line prosecutors voted to endorse the recall of this current DA because they see the effects of his policies.”

Dr. Phil noted, “LA County has had a lot of early prison releases, and one of those, Gascon’s directive allowed the release of suspect Andrew Cachu. He was serving a 50-year-to-life sentence for murder, rearrested for drug, firearm, and fleeing from police charges – what happened with him?”

Siddall slammed the case as grim example of Gascon’s “ideologically-based” policy. 

“The DA said no person who’s ever committed a crime while they were a juvenile should ever be held accountable as a criminal,’” he said. “In other words, because of the way that the juvenile justice system works in California, their jurisdiction ends at 25, which means that the only way to properly hold some juveniles accountable for heinous acts is to send them to the criminal system so that they can be in custody for longer than 25 or after 25 years old.”

The deputy DA rep said that Cachu was one of these cases, and warned that Gascon’s policies enabled him to commit further crimes. 

George Gascon, not using a case-by-case analysis, not looking at the individual facts, made a decision that all people in that guy’s situation should be released [at age 25], and of course, he was released and is now charged with another crime,” he said. “The problem with these ideological prosecutors is they have no plan about what to do with these people once they get back on the street.”

Siddall went on to explain the mindset of those like Gascon who allow potentially dangerous people back into society.

“Their whole thing is, it’s like a hope and a prayer. ‘Let’s hope and pray that they do better,’ instead of actually doing something that makes everyone else safe but also makes sure that person gets the services they need,” he said. “It’s really unfair not just only to the victim, but also to the defendant, especially if the defendant has a mental health issue.”


George Gascón’s Illegal Retaliation Costs Continue to Add Up

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$1.5 jury verdict is just the beginning of a dozen retaliation and misconduct lawsuits 

By Eric W. Siddall 

It’s not unusual for a public agency to settle or lose a lawsuit. It’s also not uncommon for a public agency to use taxpayer dollars to cover those costs. But it’s almost unheard of for a public agency to shell out millions in taxpayer funds to pay for the incompetence of a single public official who continues to commit the same personal acts of misconduct over and over again.

That is what is happening here in Los Angeles County with District Attorney George Gascón, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. 

While he was San Francisco’s District Attorney, Gascón retaliated against an investigator who questioned his decision to carry a gun on commercial flights. The controversy began when investigators reported that Gascón continuously violated federal law by bringing a personal firearm on commercial flights and that he committed perjury when he falsely claimed in signed documents that he was an active police officer. These allegations also appeared in a lawsuit filed in federal court. According to news reports, Gascón went ballistic after learning of the TSA complaint, yelling at investigators at a training day that a “cancer” was growing in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Investigator Bureau and that he intended to “cut it out.” San Francisco’s city attorney settled that case for $400,000.   

Gascón also drove his SUV into a protestor during a 2018 demonstration outside of his former Bay Area home. San Francisco County settled that lawsuit for $46,000. 

Since he took office in December 2020, Gascón’s incompetence and vindictiveness have cost Los Angeles County taxpayers at least $2.5 million in judgments. 

In 2021, the County paid out an $800,000 cash settlement plus an estimated $300,000 in severance pay to a veteran prosecutor, Richard Doyle, who questioned Gascón’s order to dismiss a train derailment case. Gascón refused to give Doyle a reason for the dismissal—which is required by law—and then promptly removed Doyle from his position. Media reports later revealed that the attorney representing the defendant was a major Gascón political supporter. The defendant also boasted in recorded jail calls that his attorney had direct contact with Gascón. 

This week, a jury awarded Deputy District Attorney Shawn Randolph $1.5 million after Gascón retaliated against her for questioning the legality of his policies. This case actually went to trial. Gascón testified. The jury listened. They clearly did not believe him or the political loyalist who testified on his behalf. 

Gascon’s misconduct has already cost Angelenos $2.5 million in taxpayer-funded payouts. That’s about $100,000 per month. And with sixteen similar lawsuits pending, the final bill will likely be even higher. 

But it’s not just about the money. Gascón’s attempt to silence dissent by retaliating against those questioning him is troubling. It is also consistent with his statements. When discussing that deputy district attorneys, like most public servants in Los Angeles County, enjoy civil service protection, Gascón stated: “Some people will be unhappy and like they’ll either become internal terrorists or they’ll leave. And I know certainly how to deal with both.” 

Is dissent a cancer – or a form of terrorism? Gascón’s authoritarian-tinged sentiment is incompatible with the highest ideals of being a prosecutor: to do justice. His retaliatory actions suggest to all who work in the District Attorney’s office that their jobs are at risk if they witness and report any of his wrongdoing. In short, his actions and words are a stark reminder of why civil service protection exists in the first place. 

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. Gascón loses retaliation case, a grim omen for the L.A. County D.A.

An L.A. County prosecutor on Monday was awarded $1.5 million in a retaliation lawsuit against Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who faces more than a dozen similar civil claims that could prove equally costly.

Shawn Randolph, the former head of the juvenile division of the district attorney’s office, claimed she was shuttled off to the parole division for pushing back against some of Gascón’s shifts to the handling of criminal cases involving minors, including his blanket ban on trying juveniles as adults.

Randolph’s legal team, led by civil attorneys Greg Smith and Beth Corriea, argued that she believed Gascón’s policies violated laws pertaining to victims’ rights and that limitations on the types of felonies prosecutors could file against teens would lead them to bring charges that did not accurately represent the alleged conduct of certain defendants.

“We have a 30-year veteran complaining that there are ethical violations and Marsy’s Law violations, and you have an administration that wants their policies followed no matter what,” Smith said during his opening statement.

Attorneys from the L.A. County counsel’s office argued that Randolph did not suffer a demotion in rank or a pay cut, and her division change was part of a broad reshuffling of the district attorney’s office that took place early in Gascón’s tenure.

They also contended that Randolph was not engaging in protected speech because her assessment that Gascón’s policies around juveniles were illegal was inaccurate. Although the policies have not been challenged in court, Gascón did amend his stance on trying juveniles as adults after facing heavy criticism for his handling of a few cases in which teens were accused of extreme and violent conduct.

“I’m grateful to have a forum where what’s happening in the district attorney’s office can be heard in a fair manner,” Randolph said outside the courtroom, describing Gascón’s conduct as an “epic failure” in leadership.

A representative for the county counsel’s office declined to comment.

“We are disappointed by the jury’s verdict and stand by our decision to reassign this and other attorneys to new positions within the office,” Tiffiny Blacknell, chief spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said in a statement. “As any manager will tell you, moving around personnel in order to improve the level of representation this community receives is absolutely critical to a functioning office.”

Several prosecutors could be seen in the gallery in Department 14 of downtown L.A.’s Stanley Mosk Courthouse; when the verdict was read, one excitedly said, “Finally.” 

The verdict does not bode well for Gascón, who testified at the two-week trial and faces similar lawsuits from prosecutors who say they were reassigned or passed up for promotions after speaking out against his progressive policies. A number of people suing Gascón, including Victoria Adams, his former chief of staff, and Deputy Dist. Atty. Maria Ramirez, testified against him at Randolph’s trial.

Ramirez is the first of what is expected to be a raft of challengers from inside the office who will attempt to unseat Gascón if he seeks reelection next year.

Eric Siddall — vice president of the union representing rank-and-file prosecutors, which has frequently sparred with Gascón — said there were as many as 16 other civil suits pending against the district attorney. 

“We all know what George Gascón thinks about public service. He has called lifelong public servants ‘internal terrorists.’ And he treated them as such. He silenced their voices, he engaged in petty and vindictive acts of retaliation, and rewarded political loyalty instead of competency and professionalism,” Siddall said in a statement. “Far worse, he did so at the expense of public safety. Today, jurors spoke out against Gascón’s incompetence and condemned his illegal machinations.”


Although Gascón handily defeated his predecessor, Jackie Lacey, to take office in 2020, his decisions to severely limit the use of sentencing enhancements, eradicate the use of the death penalty and all but end prosecutions of juveniles as adults have been deeply unpopular with rank-and-file prosecutors.

At least one retaliation claim against Gascón — filed by the former head deputy of the Compton branch court, Richard Doyle — has been settled by the county, also for a seven-figure sum.



Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.