Metropolitan News-Enterprise: Order Snipping Sentence-Boosting Allegations Is Dumped
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rob B. Villeza—who in January granted a motion made pursuant to a special directive to deputies by District Attorney George Gascón and allowed the prosecution to drop special circumstances and sentencing-enhancement allegations in a murder case—has reconsidered the matter and ordered resurrection of the original information.
In granting the motion in January, pursuant to Penal Code §1385, Villeza made the requisite finding that the lessening of potential consequences for defendant Raymond Gonzales was “in furtherance of justice,” deferring to Gascón’s policy on a “separation of powers” basis. But in an order issued May 24, of which the METNEWS gained knowledge on Friday, the judge said, on reflection:
“If the prosecutor’s policy preferences alone were deemed sufficient to justify dismissal of an existing charge or enhancement, then section 1385 would not require the court to find that dismissal would be in furtherance of justice.”
Gascón issued seven special directives on Dec. 7, the day he was sworn into office. On Feb. 8. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant issued a preliminary injunction, sought by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, barring implementation of some of the policies as “unlawful,” declaring:
“The unlawful conduct includes barring deputy district attorneys from charging enhancements they statutorily are obligated to charge, barring deputy district attorneys from complying with their ministerial duty to exercise case-by-case discretion to maintain or move to dismiss charges, mandating that deputy district attorneys move to dismiss special circumstance allegations that cannot be dismissed by law, and mandating that deputy district attorneys attempt to unilaterally abandon a prosecution where a judge denied a motion to dismiss.”
However, the preliminary injunction did not affect actions already taken by judges in response to motions deputies had been compelled to make.