The Board of Directors of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (“ADDA”) has adopted the recommendation of its Endorsement Committee to endorse Eric Siddall to be the next District Attorney of Los Angeles County.
This endorsement is the product of an exhaustive, months-long, fact-based analysis of District Attorney candidates by the ADDA’s Endorsement Committee, a process outlined in the Association’s Endorsement Protocol.
The Committee, which was composed of Deputy volunteers, received applications from seven declared candidates: Jeff Chemerinsky, Jon Hatami, Nathan Hochman, Craig Mitchell, John McKinney, Maria Ramirez, and Eric Siddall. George Gascón did not apply. Collectively, the Committee’s members contributed hundreds of hours of their personal time to the process. The Committee, along with the ADDA Board, co-sponsored a candidate forum in October, solicited direct written endorsement recommendations from the membership, and conducted in-depth, in-person interviews with each candidate who applied. The Committee also examined traditional political metrics, including campaign finance figures, endorsements, press clippings, and, where available, polling. Committee members met multiple times, for many hours, before finally making an endorsement recommendation to the ADDA Board.
To mount a successful campaign and to serve as the elected District Attorney, the ideal candidate must master policy, politics, and prosecution. She or he should be a seasoned trial lawyer with a track record of filing and litigating complex and challenging cases. She or he should have demonstrable, hands-on, substantive experience with policy formation, advocacy, and implementation. She or he should also possess exceptional political acumen, marked by deep and broad relationships across the District Attorney’s Office and in local government, an understanding of and facility with the mechanics of modern political communication, a competent and professional campaign apparatus, and a working knowledge and appreciation of the unique political demands and challenges that face (and sometimes hamper) an elected prosecutor. The ideal candidate should be someone who the ADDA leadership can work with and someone who line prosecutors can trust to address the issues that matter most to our membership. Finally, the candidate must be capable of winning the general election.
On these metrics, Eric Siddall stands apart.
Like many of his colleagues, Siddall has spent his career handling some of the office’s toughest cases, from domestic violence to gang murders to crimes against peace officers. His commitment to public safety is unquestionable.
For just as long, he has been an outspoken and respected public commentator—on television, in the press, in court, and in the community—on criminal justice-related issues. He has publicly supported reasonable and sustainable criminal justice reforms. He is a passionate, longtime advocate for the rights of victims and their surviving family members.
Most notably, Siddall is not a newcomer to the fight. His public-facing activism and advocacy predate this election cycle, the one before it, and the one before that. And because he has been involved in and, in many cases, led these very public debates and discussions—as a deputy district attorney and as a union leader—he has developed a deep and comprehensive understanding of the political, policy, and legal issues related to the work that we do. This longstanding commitment to community outreach, activism, and reform is a key reason that the Los Angeles Times accurately identified him as a “thorn in Gascón’s side dating to his 2020 campaign” and a “more measured foil for Gascón than much of the primary field.” Siddall’s experience “in the arena” is an invaluable, earned asset in this election and an essential tool for his success as the elected District Attorney.
As a longtime dues-paying ADDA member and union leader, Siddall has fought for the interests of his fellow deputy district attorneys. Siddall served on the ADDA’s Board of Directors for ten years, the last seven as Vice President. He routinely negotiated with officials in the District Attorney’s Office and in county government to resolve issues related to wages, hours, and working conditions. He was instrumental in securing additional benefits and historic pay increases for his colleagues. He has worked to protect their civil service rights. He will not face a steep learning curve on these important issues. He would be the first labor leader to serve as District Attorney and his pro-labor record proves that he is committed to supporting the ADDA’s goals and furthering the interests of its members.
Siddall’s candidacy also represents a necessary generational shift inside the office, one that we hope will bridge the gap between our newer deputies, who take a more contemporary approach to their work, and our veteran prosecutors, many of whom joined the office when the proverbial criminal justice “pendulum” was in a different place than it is today.
Three other competent and qualified career prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office are running alongside him. We are exceptionally proud to be their colleagues. And we admire and applaud each of them: Jon Hatami for his passion, hustle, grit, and commitment to child victims; John McKinney for his talent in court and eloquence on the debate stage; and Maria Ramirez for her tireless and dedicated service to our office. Each is running to change the District Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles County for the better. Each is doing so at tremendous personal and professional cost. To them, we offer our praise, our thanks, and our continued support.
Ramirez is an especially strong contender. The Los Angeles Times has called her “far and away Gascón’s most experienced opponent.” She has spent thirty years in the District Attorney’s Office and she has led it, admirably, at the highest levels. Many would argue—and rightfully so—that one of the Gascón administration’s many weaknesses is its unfamiliarity with how the District Attorney’s Office operates, both on a day-to-day basis and within the context of county government. Ramirez’s deep managerial experience would bring stability and administrative efficiency to the office’s top job. Both are sorely needed.
Ramirez has also publicly criticized the current administration. Like Siddall, McKinney, and Hatami, she has been a target of Gascón’s ire and a victim of retaliatory punitive action.
Ramirez and Siddall are both Spanish speakers. That is an asset in a county where almost four in ten registered voters are Latino. Also, the candidates’ mere presence on the ballot is powerful and historic. If elected, Siddall would be Los Angeles County’s first openly gay District Attorney while Ramirez would be the first Latina to run the Office.
In the final analysis, all of us seek the same outcome: to defeat George Gascón and to replace him with a real leader. A leader who will put public safety ahead of politics. A leader who will treat the office’s career prosecutors as professionals, not props. A leader who will respect victims, not reprimand them. A leader who will be a reliable and effective partner on the issues that matter most to our members and to the people of Los Angeles County.
Winning this race will not be easy. George Gascón has never lost an election. And no matter how unpopular he is, he will have a legion of deep-pocketed donors by his side, each willing to invest millions of dollars to support him and his candidacy.
Eric Siddall is not new to this political battle; he’s been waging it for years. We believe that he has the necessary political acumen, policy depth, and prosecutorial experience to take the fight directly to Gascón this November, to beat him in the general election, and, once elected, to move the District Attorney’s Office forward in a new, constructive, and modern direction.
Our Board is proud to endorse his candidacy for District Attorney.
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.
By Kathy Cady
In the previous article, I brought to the public’s attention a covert plan orchestrated by Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón aimed at securing the release of a convicted cop killer and prominent figure within the Mexican Mafia from state prison.
Earlier this week, in response to tenacious reporting that exposed the activities of Gascón and his inner circle, the District Attorney belatedly said he wanted to keep that murderer locked up. However, it is noteworthy that Gascón’s sudden public stance comes on the heels of years of discreet efforts aimed at overturning the killer’s conviction and facilitating the release of this perilous criminal from state prison.
Over four decades ago, a jury convicted Jesse Gonzales of the intentional murder of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Jack Williams. Gonzales, a drug-dealing Puente gang member, executed Williams as law enforcement served a search warrant on Gonzales’ house. Gonzales had been outside watering his lawn when he saw police coming. He ran inside his house and closed the door. Deputies knocked and yelled “Police!” at the door. Deputies kicked in the front door when they heard movements inside the house. Gonzales shot Deputy Williams in the chest with a shotgun, mortally wounding him. At the scene, Gonzales showed no remorse. Instead, he defiantly raised his left fist and yelled, “Viva Puente!”
Gonzales’ conviction and sentence have been affirmed – multiple times by multiple courts. For the last 40 years, the District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office successfully defended Gonzales’ conviction and sentence as being legally valid.
Gonzales has continually sought to attack his conviction, most recently in a 2012 Habeas Corpus petition. Penal Code 1473. He alleged that the prosecution didn’t turn over exculpatory evidence to his defense counsel (Brady error). During the trial, a jailhouse informant testified that the defendant admitted that he knew the people at his house were law enforcement officers. This was an important fact because at trial Gonzales claimed that he thought the police were rival gang members.
But trial transcripts make it clear that the jury knew that the informant was a convicted murderer, an admitted liar and that he expected to receive some favorable treatment from testifying. After the trial, additional evidence was discovered that confirmed what the jury had been told – that the informant had major credibility problems.
This brings us to Gonzales’ habeas petition to overturn his conviction. If the judge agreed with the defendant’s claim, the only legal remedy was a reversal of the conviction. Legally, the court could not just change Gonzales’ sentence. Why not? Because the defendant’s Brady claim, if true, would undermine the conviction’s legality and require reversal. For nine years, the DA’s and AG’s offices both believed (and argued) the Brady claim lacked merit.
Once Gascón was elected, however, this changed… when Gascón brought in a cadre of former public defenders to specifically handle cases like this, including Gonzales.
Prosecutors have an ethical obligation to seek justice, tell the truth, and always do the right thing. While Gascón makes public statements claiming to have integrity, he and those he has put in charge of these cases do not. In this case, those people included Diana Teran, Joseph Iniguez and Shelan Joseph. This group attempted to use the Gonzales case to show that Gascón is correcting mistakes made by other prosecutors that they claim were “unethical.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
- In December 2021, Diana Teran sent an email stating, “We are ethically obligated to concede the Brady violation” on Gonzales’ conviction and sentence, meaning the conviction should be overturned.
- On December 7, 2021, Teran, Iniguez and Joseph had a Zoom call with Deputy William’s daughters, during which they tried to talk them into agreeing to “resentence” Gonzalez to a term of 15 years to life, which would have made him immediately eligible for a parole hearing. The family did not agree. Gascón did not attempt to lower Gonzales’ sentence, fearing a public backlash.
- In September 2022, Shelan Joseph filed a document conceding the Brady claim. The office, including prosecutors under Joseph’s supervision, never filed any document with the court that defended the conviction.
- On June 2, 2023, the handling court, seeking clarification of the issue(s) in dispute, asked Gascón’s prosecutors if Gonzales ever admitted that he saw the police while watering outside his home before the search warrant was served.
There was an easy answer: at trial, the lead detective testified that Gonzales “stated that he had been inside the house taking a shower. After taking a shower, he got dressed, went to the front yard and began to water the front yard. At one point, he went in to check on the welfare of a child, returned to the front yard, and continued watering the front lawn until, suddenly, he saw the cops coming. He threw the hose down and ran back inside the house.”
Did Joseph or any other Gascón prosecutor refer the judge to the detective’s clear-cut testimony? No. Instead, in her continued attempt to undermine the defendant’s conviction, on July 14, 2023, Shelan Joseph told the court that “[t]he evidence is unclear on this issue.”
Wait – WHAT?
The evidence was, in fact, incredibly clear – the defendant admitted that he saw police coming, went inside his house, got his shotgun, waited until police forced entry, and then murdered Deputy Williams.
This week, in response to substantial public outcry and political pressure, Gascón went on TV and told ABC News that he wanted Gonzales to stay in prison and that — finally — his office would stand by its pre-Gascón decision to defend the conviction.
And then, Gascón’s hand-picked prosecutor made a last-ditch effort to double back. At the hearing on December 5, Shelan Joseph told the court, for the first time, that the DA’s office thought the Brady claim should be granted for the sentence only, not the conviction.
The law doesn’t work that way. A concession on the Brady claim undermines the entire conviction. You can’t separate it and ask that it only affect the sentence, not the conviction. A career prosecutor would know that. But a political ally with limited prosecutorial experience, like Joseph, either did not know it, didn’t want to admit it, or didn’t care.
In the end, Judge George Lomeli denied Gonzales’ petition, effectively ending the Gascón administration’s secret scheme to let this cop-killing shotcaller out of prison.
In his ruling, Judge Lomeli stated that despite the prosecution’s concession, he found NO Brady violation and denied the defendant’s Habeas claim. The prosecution’s concession was not justified.
After the court’s ruling, Joseph Iniguez could be seen glad-handing with law enforcement, who was there in support of the victim’s family. Iniguez continued Gascón’s attempt to say “nothing to see here” by telling ABC that the DA’s office had never discussed Gonzales getting a sentence that would make him eligible for a parole hearing.
The reduced sentence that Gascón pressured the family to accept would have made the defendant immediately eligible for a parole hearing based on California’s elder parole law (Penal Code 3055). In a further gut punch, Gascón’s policies do not allow prosecutors from Los Angeles to attend parole hearings, so Jack Williams’ family would have had to navigate the parole hearings on their own.
Gascón brazenly sought to upend the conviction of a cop killer and unleash a current member of the Mexican Mafia into our neighborhoods. His attempts to cloak these actions under the guise of an “ethical obligation to play by the rules” are nothing short of a deceptive cover-up. His approach’s glaring lack of integrity demands an immediate and sincere commitment to ethical conduct moving forward.
About Kathy Cady
Kathy Cady, a Victims’ Rights Attorney at Dordulian Law Group, brings over three decades of legal expertise, including 31 years as a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. With a specialization in family violence, child abuse, and sexual assault cases, Ms. Cady conducted over 90 felony jury trials. In her distinguished career, she served as the Deputy-in-Charge of the Victim Impact Program (VIP), overseeing vertical prosecutions in cases involving sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, family violence, stalking, and hate crimes at the Los Angeles County District Attorney Pasadena Branch Office. Before this, she held the role of Special Assistant to the Director for the Bureau of Victim Services, contributing significantly to protecting victims’ rights.
Ms. Cady’s impactful contributions extend beyond the courtroom, encompassing extensive lecturing on topics like child physical and sexual abuse, the criminal justice system, victims’ rights, services, restitution, and issues faced by victims with disabilities. She is a seasoned author, having written articles on domestic violence, child abuse, and victims’ rights. A proactive advocate, Ms. Cady has actively drafted legislation and testified in Sacramento on matters related to victims’ rights and child abuse. Her commitment to the cause is further reflected in her role as a Board Member of the National Crime Victim Law Institute, the Children’s Advocacy Center for Child Abuse Assessment and Treatment, Justice for Homicide Victims, and Justice for Murdered Children. She also served on the California Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
In her current capacity at Dordulian Law Group, Ms. Cady provides pro bono representation to crime victims, lending her wealth of experience to help them assert their rights in criminal and juvenile justice cases.
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
By Kathy Cady
Last year, in response to substantial negative publicity and public push back in the Hannah Tubbs’ case, Gascón “adjusted” his strict no-transfer juvenile policy issuing the following statement: “[O]ur juvenile system in its current iteration does not provide adequate support to help [a former minor]…except through the adult system…The complex issues and facts of [this] particular case were unusual, and I should have treated them that way.”
Unfortunately, Gascón’s epiphany in Tubbs was short lived. Another juvenile case far worse than Tubbs’ has been pending a decision on a transfer hearing for over a year. It appears that Gascón is relying on the juvenile court’s confidentiality to hide his unwillingness to authorize the transfer of Rudy Paz to criminal court. In an effort to seek justice, victims are once again compelled to shine a light on their case to highlight Gascón’s chronic lack of transparency.
Paz sexually abused multiple young boys, the youngest of whom was only 4 years old. Each victim was abused over a period of several years. Paz “groomed” these young boys and then repeatedly committed every type of sex act against them. “Grooming” is the process a sexual predator uses to build an emotional connection to manipulate kids and gain their trust – to both accomplish the abuse, and to prevent the children from reporting the abuse. The children that Paz abused didn’t tell anyone what happened until several years after the molestation stopped. Because of that, Paz wasn’t arrested until he was 24. The last known time that Paz molested one of his victims was weeks before he turned 18.
Paz is now 25 years old but committed these crimes on much younger children when he was under 18 years old. When a sexual predator begins committing crimes before they reach the age of 18, their victims are almost always children.
Most crimes committed by juvenile offenders are correctly prosecuted in juvenile court so they can receive rehabilitation, which is expected to cure their criminal behavior. The law, however, recognizes 30 crimes for which 16- and 17-year-olds can be prosecuted in criminal court. These crimes include murder, home invasion robbery, carjacking and aggravated sexual crimes. The law sets forth factors to be considered to ensure that only those minors who can’t be rehabilitated in the juvenile system are transferred to criminal jurisdiction where the sentences for these crimes are justly commensurate with the offenses. When offenders are beyond the rehabilitation that the juvenile system can provide, the prosecution focus must shift to prioritize public safety.
As often happens in child molestation cases, Paz’ victims didn’t tell anyone what Paz had done for several years. Delayed disclosure isn’t uncommon for this insidious crime especially in cases where children were groomed by the defendant. Paz is now an adult, but because Paz committed his crimes when was under 18 years old he is currently charged in juvenile court.
Paz can, and should, be prosecuted in criminal court. Yet Gascón believes that minors should never be prosecuted in criminal court, stating blindly, “We should treat kids like kids,” regardless of the atrocious crime they committed.
Gascón was aware of the horrendous facts of the Tubbs’ case. Gascón knew a 10-year-old little girl was forcibly sexually assaulted in a public restroom when Tubbs was just weeks shy of age 18. He knew Tubbs was 26 years old when apprehended. He knew the juvenile system had near nothing to offer a now 26-year-old sexual predator by way of rehabilitation services because the juvenile system is designed to rehabilitate youth, not 26-year-old sophisticated predators. Gascón knew Tubbs was not remorseful. Gascón knew Tubbs was recorded on a jail call laughing about the light sentence in the juvenile system. Gascón did not listen to vociferous warnings from prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office, who are experienced in juvenile crime, about keeping Tubbs in the juvenile system. Gascón still ordered that Tubbs stay in juvenile court.
The courageous victim of Tubbs’ horrific actions said Gascón’s handling of the case was ‘insulting’ because “[t]he things Tubbs did to me and made me do that day were beyond horrible for a 10-year-old girl to have to go through.”
The question now is why, given his professed revelations about the mishandling of the Tubbs case, is Gascón not moving forward on a transfer hearing for Paz? Does Gascón understand that the safety value he mentioned when he “adjusted” his policies after the Tubbs’ fiasco, demand that Paz be prosecuted in criminal court to protect the public? What is Gascón waiting for?
When a juvenile offender commits a violent and dangerous crime such as murder or predatory sexual assault and that offender is not apprehended until years later, the juvenile system provides a maximum of two years-time under probation supervision. Indeed, because Los Angeles County lacks any custodial facility for aged-out former juvenile offenders, Paz will most likely be released to a halfway house, or other non-custodial location to serve his meager two-year sentence. Gascón knows this.
Being charged in juvenile versus criminal court also affects sex offender registration requirements. Sexual predators prosecuted in juvenile court do not have to register as sex offenders, leaving the public blind. Sex offender registration provides the public important notice of sex offenders who might live and work in our communities. California Megan’s Law website is a public database that provides information on registered sex offenders. For this reason, it is very important to prosecute the most serious and predatory sex offenders in adult criminal court.
Instead of allowing prosecutors with expertise and experience in juvenile justice to evaluate the facts of each case, Gascón set up a Juvenile Alternative Charging Evaluation (JACE) Committee made up of people who appear to blindly follow his belief that we should “treat kids like kids” and never prosecute them in criminal court. Paz’ case has been languishing in the JACE Committee and the victims and their families have been waiting for months.
Gascón can move prosecution of Paz to the adult justice system which will provide an appropriate sentence for Paz’s crimes that the juvenile system cannot. Adult court prosecution would protect other children by keeping Paz in custody. It would provide a just sentence for his crimes and justice for his victims. It would also require Paz to register as a sex offender.
If, however, Paz remains in juvenile court, the maximum sentence can be only two years which will likely be served in a non-custodial location. After that Paz will be released. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Child victims, those already victimized and the future victims of these predators, pay the price and suffer the risk for Gascón ’s many failures. For all the young children in LA County, we can only hope that this serial child molester is prosecuted in criminal court, so the public is protected, specifically the most vulnerable little ones.
Kathy Cady is a Victims’ Rights Attorney at Dordulian Law Group. She provides pro bono representation to crime victims and assists them with asserting their rights in criminal and juvenile justice cases. She retired after 31 years as a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. She tried over 90 felony jury trials and specialized in family violence, child abuse, and sexual assault cases. Her last assignment was as the Deputy-in-Charge of the Victim Impact Program (VIP) where she supervised deputy district attorneys who vertically prosecute cases involving sexual assault of adults, physical and sexual assault of children, elder abuse, family violence, stalking cases and hate crimes in the Los Angeles County District Attorney Pasadena Branch Office. She was previously the Special Assistant to the Director for the Bureau of Victim Services which safeguards victims’ rights and assists victims of violent crime. She has lectured extensively on child physical and sexual abuse, the criminal justice system, victims’ rights and services, restitution and victims with disabilities. She has authored articles on domestic violence, child abuse and victims’ rights. Ms. Cady has drafted legislation and testified in Sacramento regarding bills relating to victims’ rights and child abuse. She is a Board Member on the National Crime Victim Law Institute, the Children’s Advocacy Center for Child Abuse Assessment and Treatment, Justice for Homicide Victims and Justice for Murdered Children and previously served on the California Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
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.