Gascon took office earlier this month and immediately
announced radical changes, including an end to cash bail, a ban on the death penalty, and a prohibition on extended sentences for exacerbating circumstances, such as using a gun or belonging to a gang.
The new rules affected ongoing cases, such as a case
involving a suspect charged with a double murder, including that of L.A. Sherrif’s Deputy Gilbert Solano. After intense public criticism and n outcry from the officer’s family, Gascon restored some enhancements, though only for a limited set of circumstances, such as hate crimes, child abuse, or sex trafficking.
lawsuit seeks an injunction against Gascon’s new policy on sentences, saying that it violates California state law. In a statement, the ADDA explained:
As detailed in the lawsuit, the directives violate California law, which imposes a mandatory duty on prosecutors to plead and prove strike priors. Dismissals of those priors can only be based on individual circumstances, not a blanket policy. Similarly, special circumstance allegations that will result in a life without parole sentence cannot be dismissed under the section cited by the directive.
“Los Angeles County prosecutors have been placed in an impossible position. Do we follow our legal and ethical responsibilities and risk getting disciplined, even fired, by our new boss? Or do we follow his policy directives and risk losing our California State Bar Cards and, by extension, our ability to practice law anywhere in the state? We’re asking a court to answer those questions,” stated ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall.
Later on Thursday, the L.A. Superior Court ordered the D.A. to respond to the lawsuit, and the ADDA
withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order to allow the case to be heard expeditiously.
Gascon tried to defend his policy on Twitter:
He also cited an
editorial in the Los Angeles Times praising him and calling on the state to reform its “irrational” laws on enhancing sentences.
Gascon is one of several left-wing prosecutors backed by Soros in recent elections. He previously served as district attorney in San Francisco, during a rise in petty crime that made the city notorious for its deterioration.
He defeated Jackie Lacey, L.A.’s first-ever black district attorney, in November, with the help of state and local Democrats — including Mayor Eric Grcetti, who
switched his endorsement from Lacey to Garcetti.