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.

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.

When Ethics are an Afterthought

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On February 22, 2023, George Gascón violated the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Legal Policy Manual when discussing the case of the man arrested for the murder of Bishop David O’Connell. Office policy states that “[I]nformation shall not be released” to the media and public, which includes “Information regarding a confession, admission or statement” made by the defendant. Despite the policy prohibition, Gascón discussed the alleged confession made by the defendant.

Not only does office policy forbid the statements made by Gascón, the State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit prosecutors from making out-of-court statements they know will be publicly disseminated and that have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter. Comments to the ABA rule, on which the California rule is based, singled out revealing the existence or contents of a confession as misconduct because it is likely to have a material prejudicial effect on future proceedings.

These fumbles concluded a rocky week for Gascón, as earlier in the week, he was forced to take the stand and testify in a lawsuit accusing him of retaliating against Deputy District Attorney Shawn Randolph after she told him some of his “reform” efforts were unethical and illegal.

Gascon testified under oath that the policies he implemented were all legal, notwithstanding the rulings of a Superior Court and California Court of Appeal that some of those policies violated the law and forced prosecutors to violate their ethical obligations if they followed them.

This will be the first of many trips to the stand for Gascón, as there are currently nine separate lawsuits brought by Deputy District Attorneys alleging retaliation by Gascón after they questioned or criticized his policy directives.

Whether it be office policy, state bar rules of professional conduct, or civil service rules, Gascón continues to violate one rule after another, guided not by the law or ethics, but by ideology and politics.


Convicted gang murderers commit new crimes

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By Kathleen Cady

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s blanket Youth Justice policy mandated that several “former minors” who were convicted by a jury of gang murder and sentenced in criminal court be released. In less than one and a half years, two thirds of these convicted murderers have been charged with new felonies.

These convicted murderers, who were 16 or 17 at the time they committed their crimes, were released after serving only a fraction of the time of their original sentence. Because of the passage of Proposition 57 in 2016, some former minors were sent back to juvenile court by the Court of Appeal, with directions to hold a retroactive “transfer” hearing to determine whether their conviction should have been in juvenile court or criminal court. Gascón did not conduct any of these transfer hearings. The result is that these defendants who were convicted of gang murders, sometimes of multiple murders, were released back into our communities having served only a few years in custody. In all these cases, the former minors were released without any assurances that they received rehabilitative services, nor any evaluation as to their current dangerousness. Some of these former minors had subsequent convictions for crimes of violence they committed while in custody.

It is unknown exactly how many of these cases there were because the District Attorney’s Office has not provided that information, but a declaration under penalty of perjury filed by someone in the DA’s administration stated “there were approximately eight to ten former minors who had already been sentenced in adult court, but were conditionally remanded to juvenile court” for a transfer hearing.

The law recognizes that the juvenile justice system is not the appropriate place for some 16- and 17-year-olds who commit exceptionally heinous and brutal crimes. This legal procedure for a minor to be prosecuted in criminal court is triggered by the prosecution filing a transfer motion. (Welfare and Institutions Code 707). This procedure provides a judicial safeguard to ensure that only those minors who can’t be rehabilitated in the juvenile system are transferred to criminal jurisdiction.

At least six of these former minors were released in the summer or fall of 2021. All were in their 20’s and now have the street cred gangs give to people who’ve served time in prison. Two were not released: one convicted murderer was not released because he was serving an 8-year sentence for assault on a prisoner in a different county; and one was not released because he was pending new charges of attempted murder committed while in custody.

Of the six convicted murderers who were released, four have been rearrested. One is now charged with a new murder; one is now charged with felon in possession of a gun, evading police and drug charges, and two convicted gang murderers are now charged with felon in possession of a gun. Gascón claims to rely on “data and science.” What the data reveals from this group of convicted murderers is that 66% have been re-arrested and are now charged with murder or having guns . . . again. Only two have not been re-arrested. Below is a summary of the defendants who were released and have been rearrested:

Victor Bibiano and another gang member were convicted by a jury of the 2009 murders of Justin Curiel and Javier Zamora. An additional victim was shot but survived. The jury found that the defendants committed the murders for the benefit of the gang and Bibiano used a gun. The Court of Appeal sent the case back for a retroactive transfer hearing, which the District Attorney’s Office did not conduct. Because of that, Bibiano was released after only 12 years in custody after murdering two people for the benefit of his gang.

Within a few months of being released, Bibiano was arrested and convicted of spousal abuse and then released. A few months after being released on spousal abuse, Bibiano was arrested and charged with a different codefendant of murdering Mario Rodriguez on April 16, 2022. Because Gascón’s policies do not allow gang allegations, it is unknown whether this new crime was committed for the benefit of the gang. Bibiano remains in custody on murder charges. Although the law allows for Special Circumstance of multiple murders to be charged, Gascón’s policies do not, so if Bibiano is convicted, his sentence will effectively be the same as a person who has not previously murdered two people.

Jairo Bustamante aka “Hunter” and Juan Solano Sanchez were codefendants in the 2011 murders of Franklin Munoz and Israel Salinas. Bustamante was convicted by jury of murder of Salinas and voluntary manslaughter of Munoz three days earlier. A jury convicted Juan Solano Sanchez of the murder of Munoz. The jury found the gang allegation true and that they both committed the killings for the benefit of their gang. Bustamante had a prior robbery juvenile conviction. While in prison, Bustamante was convicted of arson. While in prison Solano was convicted of felony battery. The Court of Appeal sent the case back for a retroactive transfer hearing, which Gascón’s office did not conduct. Because of that, Bustamante and Solano were released after spending only 10 years in custody.

On 2/14/2022, Solano Sanchez was arrested and charged for felon in possession of a gun. On 10/20/2022, Bustamante was arrested and charged with felony in possession of a gun. Despite the fact that both are convicted gang murderers who used a gun and are now pending charges of felon in possession of a gun, they both remain out of custody. Gascón’s Pretrial Release policy and his belief in the unfairness of cash bail is responsible for Bustamante and Solano Sanchez still being out of custody.

Andrew Cachu was convicted of the 2015 murder and robbery of Louis Amela. The jury also found the crimes were committed for the benefit of Cachu’s gang. The Court of Appeal sent the case back for the District Attorney’s Office to conduct a retroactive transfer hearing, which the District Attorney’s Office again did not conduct, resulting in Cachu being released after only 6 years in custody. Within a few months, Cachu was arrested and is charged with evading police, being a felon with a gun, possessing cocaine and methamphetamine for sale and driving under the influence. Cachu remains in custody.

More than a year after issuing his blanket policies, and after several public fiascos, Gascón modified his Youth Justice policy stating, “in exceptional circumstances, criminal jurisdiction may be appropriate for youth offenders.” His change in policy is little solace to Bibiano’s newest murder victim.

Gascón’s policies threaten public safety and are directly responsible for dangerous defendants being out of custody who have hurt fathers, mothers, daughters and sons. A lawsuit has been filed against Gascón claiming that he is responsible for the deaths of El Monte police officers. But for Gascón’s policies, our communities would be safer. Convicted gang murderer Bibiano would not have been released from custody and Mario Rodriguez would still be alive. Convicted gang murderers Cachu, Bustamante and Solano Sanchez would not have illegally obtained more guns and committed new crimes.

Gascón’s policies help criminal defendants and disregard victims and public safety. Unfortunately for the residents of Los Angeles County, as long as Gascón’s policies remain in place, gang members are empowered, and our communities continue to suffer.

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

A Victim Asks Gascón: ‘How Dare You Make Me Do Your Job?’

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By Kathleen Cady

In 1991, when Jamie S. was 13 years old, she was kidnapped, raped and sodomized by Danny Brown while walking to her junior high school.  In 1991, Jamie S. and her family could rely on the governmental agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting Brown. In 2022, that radically changed when Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon abandoned Jamie S. Although prosecutors in every other county attend parole hearings with victims, Gascon’s policy is that prosecutors in his office may not, so Jamie S. attended the parole hearing of her rapist without a prosecutor, where she had to advocate for herself and for public safety.

Brown kidnapped Jamie S. and two other middle school students and sexually assaulted them in 1991. The police did their job and investigated Brown’s crimes. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did its job and prosecuted Brown.  A jury convicted the defendant because Jamie S. and the other victims bravely agreed to testify against Brown, trusting the DA’s office to seek justice and protect the public. Brown, who already had a prior record, was convicted by a jury of three counts of kidnap, nine counts of rape, one count of sodomy and one count of forcible sexual assault on a child under 14. Brown was sentenced to 107 years in prison. At the time of sentencing, the judge said the case was “a parent’s nightmare. They send their kid to school in the morning to go on the bus to school or to walk to school and the defendant who is obviously a sexual predator on children – takes them and assaults them. . . . [T]he events were planned and premeditated. They were not impulsive. There were threats to kill. . . . He had brought with him [duct] tape at least on one instance. . . . [The children] were violated in person, spirit, in addition to their bodies being violated.”

Victims have a Constitutional Right to justice and due process. California Constitution Article I, Section 28(b).  Los Angeles County District Attorney Gascón’s policies violate the Constitution and failed Jamie S. by deserting her when she needed protection most.

Jamie S. has a question for Gascón: “How dare you issue a policy that abandons me at the parole hearing of my rapist?” How dare you abandon your legal responsibility to be the sole representative for the People of the State of California at parole hearings? Penal Code section 3041.7. How dare you forbid trained and experienced prosecutors from reviewing the defendant’s prison record, asking clarifying questions and giving a recommendation about whether the defendant should be paroled? Cal. Code of Regs., title 15, Section 2030(d)(2). How dare you make me be responsible for the safety of myself and my family and other school age children? 

About one month before the parole hearing, Jamie S. received a letter from the prison notifying her of the parole hearing which started her reliving the nightmare all over again. Her 13-year-old self-resurfaced. All of the things she had suppressed came back with a vengeance. She thought he would never get out of prison.  She could not believe that the man who had been sentenced to 107 years in prison for violently sexually assaulting 3 young girls was eligible for parole after only 31 years in prison. 

At the parole hearing when Jamie S. saw the man who kidnapped and raped her when she was 13, she started crying, ran out of the room and threw up. Despite this, she chose to continue on at the parole hearing so that the parole commissioners and the defendant would hear her voice and know how the defendant’s actions affected her life. Jamie is a survivor and wanted the Parole Board to know that Brown should never be released from prison. 

Victims have a right to attend and speak at parole hearings of their offender. Penal Code Sections 3043(b)(1) and 3043.6. Victims have a right to have their safety and the safety of the general public considered before the defendant can be paroled. California Constitution Article I, Section 28(b)(15) and (16).  Victims also are entitled to victim services. Penal Code Section 13835.5. Although Jamie S. did have the assistance of a victim advocate, victim advocates aren’t prosecutors. Victim advocates do not have access to the defendant’s prison record, nor does the advocate have the legal authority to oppose parole, leaving Jamie S. alone in opposing parole. 

During the parole hearing Jamie S. heard the defendant as he recounted his crimes. “The first [kidnap and rape], it was by chance. . . I wanted her to hurt, pain. I looked around and I said, I can get away with it. And that’s how I tapped the first one . . . (“tapped” is urban slang for having sex). The first one, it was exciting. I was in control and empowered and it was a tension release. It did feel good. And I wanted to catch that high again, that feeling again. And since I got away with it for the first time because of the way I was thinking, I said I could get away with it a second time. It would be easy. I went back to the same area. This time looking, planning to do this.” He attempted to excuse his actions saying that young girls in his neighborhood were “aggressive” as if that made it ok to kidnap and rape young girls on their way to junior high school.

So why was the defendant who had been sentenced to 107 years in prison up for parole after only 31 years? Because in 2017 legislators in Sacramento passed Elder Parole (Penal Code 3055) which guaranteed every person over 60 years old who had served over 25 years in prison a parole hearing. Apparently that wasn’t good enough, because in 2020, AB 3234 (Ting) amended Penal Code section 3055 and allowed every person who is over 50 years old who has served more than 20 years in prison to get a parole hearing. So, serial child molesters, serial rapists, serial murders who are over 50 years old get a parole hearing after only 20 years in custody. Brown is now 57 years old, so he qualified. Jamie S. has something to say to California legislators: “What were you thinking? What made you think that a serial sexual predator should get a parole hearing before serving his full sentence?” 

On October 6, 2022, the Parole Board denied Brown parole for 5 years. He’ll be eligible for another hearing in 2027. Before that, however, he can petition to have his parole hearing advanced.

In addition to the unspeakable trauma from the inmate’s sexual assault, the circumstances of the parole hearing caused Jamie S. untold anxiety because of the absence of a prosecutor. After the parole hearing she had nightmares about Brown, just like she had years ago. This has not deterred her, however. She is determined to assert her Constitutional right to attend Brown’s future parole hearings and speak against his being released because she believes he will harm other young girls. She just hopes that at the next parole hearing a prosecutor will be there to do their job: represent the People and protect the public.

Jamie S. has chosen to share her story to highlight the injustice and dangerousness of Gascón’s policies.

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

Dealing with ‘Internal Terrorists’

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By Eric Siddall

“Internal terrorist” is an old LAPD management term used for those who don’t “get with the program.” Much has changed within LAPD, but not for some of its alums.

One in particular, George Gascón—former LAPD brass—used the antiquated term during his campaign for district attorney. When asked how he would work within civil service rules to implement his agenda, he was not concerned. “I know certainly how to deal” with “internal terrorists.” He wasn’t lying.

Since Gascón took office on December 7, 2020, those who question his policies are deemed internal terrorists. “To deal” with them or their views, he has employed methods that violate California’s criminal and labor laws. Yet, even when a court has ruled against him, there is little consequence to these actions. For every lawsuit responding to his actions, for every complaint, for every hearing, there is an unlimited litigation budget paid for by L.A. County taxpayers. This enables him to ignore the law, while fighting it off with high-priced, taxpayer-subsidized lawyers.

In December 2020, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys sued Gascón to enjoin him from violating state criminal statutes. Gascón spared no taxpayer dollar to defend his novel position that the executive branch has the power to ignore the other two branches of government. After the superior court judge ruled against him, Gascón hired the nation’s most expensive litigator. We still don’t know how much this case cost the taxpayers.

Meanwhile, because of a byzantine labor system, Gascón has played a game of siege warfare. He wantonly flouts civil service rules, violations pile up against him, but, because he has access to unlimited taxpayer money, a lawful remedy for these violations can be held at bay by using litigation tactics that cause endless delays. Normally, delay tactics cost money, but when you never see the bill, it doesn’t matter.

This is how you deal with “internal terrorists.” You hold the system hostage with endless delays. These delays make a mockery of our civil service system and the county charter which were designed in response to the graft and political cronyism that infected many eastern cities in the nineteenth century. Abuses like the Tammany Hall ring that used government jobs and taxpayer money to reward political patronage in New York inspired many of our current good government policies. In one instance, “Boss” Tweed and the Tammany machine pocketed the equivalent of half a billion dollars (adjusted for inflation) on one county courthouse project.

Our current system—for all of its flaws—was designed to protect against graft and cronyism while ensuring that political leaders could still carry out their mandates. The elected leaders just have to act within the parameters of the law.

The L.A. Times editorial board—knowing these rules—advised Gascón accordingly: “To implement his agenda successfully, he will have to win over his office with the power of persuasion and an appeal to his prosecutors’ professionalism.” They were right, under the civil service rules, persuasion and professionalism were the right vehicle for change, not fiat.

But rules are inconvenient. They require negotiation, patience, and consensus building. So, rather than working within the rules, Gascón, a veteran of the old Daryl Gates LAPD school of management, manipulated and sometimes even ignored them. He rewarded political allies who helped him in the campaign. He dismissed criminal charges against a political ally. Backroom deals were cut. He retaliated against those who questioned his orders. He refused to comply with California’s Public Records Act. His first retaliation order cost taxpayers over a million dollars to settle—and that didn’t include attorney fees. As he promised, he knew how to deal with internal terrorist.

Despite being limited by the county charter to six political positions, he rewarded political supporters by moving them into civil service protected positions. Under normal circumstances, a vacant government position requires a job posting that outlines the qualifications the candidate must possess to apply for the position. This good government practice ensures that through open competition, qualified candidates will fill open positions.

Gascón ignored this practice. Instead, he hand selected deputy public defenders who were political supporters, or friends of political supporters, to fill civil service prosecutor positions without the normally mandatory public job listing or requisite exam. This not only violated civil service principles, but, at a time when deputy public defenders were complaining about their workload, it took frontline defense lawyers out of their ranks into the district attorney’s office. Nor did this transfer assist the urgent need for trial attorneys, since it seems most of these deputy public defenders were promised that they needn’t prosecute most types of crime.

While the hiring of his political allies is being challenged before the Civil Service Commission, Gascón continues to stall a final decision by the commission by throwing up road blocks and filing frivolous motions that fly in the face of open and transparent government. And because he has unlimited resources (read taxpayer money) these motions are routinely filed and summarily rejected.

His latest venture is aimed at intimidating newly hired deputy district attorneys. For decades, newly hired deputy district attorneys were placed on probation for a year at a reduced salary. After the first year, they were evaluated by their supervisors. If they passed probation, they were automatically promoted, given a salary increase, and civil service protection. If they didn’t pass probation, they were fired. The system was designed to make sure that candidates had the required prosecutorial skills and temperament before given a permanent job.

Legally, any change to this practice requires negotiation with the union. Gascón conveniently ignored that rule. Without any notice, he ordered newly hired deputy district attorneys to take an exam that doesn’t contain one question testing prosecutorial skills or temperament. There is no known legitimate purpose for this exam. In fact, when one of the new hires questioned whether the exam would be used for their promotion, the answer from Human Resources Division was, “no.” So what is the purpose of the exam? The answer may lie in the test questions themselves, more than one of which reportedly ask the test-taker about their loyalty to the employer.

Even more problematic, we are unaware whether the test addresses concerns of racial disparity. For example, the University of California recently abandoned standardized testing for admissions because of concerns with “racist metrics.” Does this test cause racial disparity? Gascón has refused to meet and confer on these real concerns.

This brings us back to how you deal with “internal terrorist.” It seems Gascón has the answer to that one: flush out your political enemies and reward those who show allegiance.

Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. His commentary above was published in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise on November 8, 2022.

State Legislators Freed Man Who “Should Never Be Allowed Into Society.” He Is Now Accused Of Murder in Sacramento.

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By Michele Hanisee

This past Sunday, a rapist who was released from prison decades early because of 2018 legislation was arrested for murdering a 60-year-old man who worked at a Sacramento board and care facility. Michael Xavier Bell, who is now 36 years old, had been out of custody for just 73 days.

We wrote about Bell in 2018. Back then, he was serving a state prison sentence for breaking into a woman’s home and, once inside, raping her at gunpoint in front of her 8-year-old son. Bell and an accomplice took turns committing sexual assaults, at times pointing a gun at the victim’s head and at times pointing the gun at the victim’s 8-year-old son, forcing him to watch.

When the crime occurred in December of 2000, Bell was just nine days shy of his 15th birthday. He was tried and convicted as an adult in 2002, and sentenced to 53 years to life in prison. He was so dangerous and unrepentant that the sentencing judge stated: “It is this court’s intention this defendant never, never get out of prison. This defendant is incapable of being rehabilitated. This defendant is not someone who should ever be allowed into society.”

But Bell was allowed back into society thanks to SB 1391, which prohibited prosecutors from charging 14- or 15-year-olds as adults unless they first held a hearing at which a judge concurred that the minor should be treated as an adult.

Governor Brown and the state legislature, including current appointed Attorney General, Rob Bonta, ignored impassioned pleas about how dangerous this legislation was to public safety. In fact, there were no safeguards created within this legislation to protect the public from the most dangerous juvenile offenders such as Bell. Nor was there any mechanism for addressing the retroactive effect on convicted juveniles, like Bell, who had since become adults and who therefore could not be returned to the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. This is why Bell was released from custody without any form of supervision, or services and apparently without having received any type of sex offender treatment or rehabilitation.

Nor was Bell a model prisoner. According to records filed with the court, he was twice convicted of new felony battery cases while in prison and had numerous disciplinary write-ups wherever he was housed. In his last years of incarceration, he was charged and convicted of felony vandalism of government property for smashing the windows of the visiting area. He was even written up for the rape of another inmate.

Twenty years ago, a Los Angeles County Judge presciently determined that Michael Bell “is not someone who should ever be allowed into society.” Sadly, our state legislature and Governor Brown opened a back door to let him, and others like him, out of custody without services, supervision, or the hint of rehabilitation. The outcome was tragically predictable: another senseless murder of an innocent victim.

Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.