Prosecutors seek injunction, allege ‘cronyism’ by Gascón

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The union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against District Attorney George Gascón on Thursday, alleging cronyism and appointments to prominent positions for “ineligible political supporters.”  

The petition for a temporary injunction — filed in L.A. County Superior Court by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for L.A. County — states Gascón appointed L.A. County public defenders Alisa Blair, Tiffiny Blacknell and Shelan Joseph to prominent positions within the county’s prosecutorial office soon after his administration was sworn in at the end of last year.  

In the District Attorney’s Office, the hierarchal order for deputy district attorneys runs from DDA I to DDA V, with the latter being the highest. Blair was reportedly appointed to a DDA III position and Blacknell and Joseph were brought in at the DDA IV level.     

“Blair, Blacknell and Joseph were not on the active eligible lists as none had taken or passed the test and none had the prior experience as DDA Is and IIs to qualify for those eligible lists,” the petition reads. “Blair and Blacknell had, however, made financial contributions to Gascón’s election campaign.” 

Officials from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on this story, citing that they are unable to speak on pending litigation. Officials from the George Gascón anti-recall campaign were unavailable to comment as of the publication of this story.   

Joseph, the injunction states, had made a declaration in L.A. County Superior Court expressing his support for Gascón’s special directives issued upon his entering office — orders that have been met with resistance by a number of county prosecutors.  

“Thus, even though they were not qualified under the Civil Service Rules, Gascón appointed Blair and Blacknell as rewards for their political support,” reads the complaint.  

The petition states that a handful of the appeals filed by the ADDA in regard to the appointments are still awaiting judgement, but at least three of the sitting members on the board the union is appealing to, the Civil Services Commission, “expressed significant concerns” about Gascón’s appointments.   

“The Los Angeles County Charter establishes a Civil Service System which requires employees to be selected and advanced for their ability, knowledge and skill, prohibits discrimination based on political affiliation, and protects employees against coercion for political purposes,” said a statement from the ADDA about the petition. “In violation of the charter, the District Attorney hired unqualified political supporters from the public defender’s office and appointed them to deputy district attorney positions instead of selecting qualified career prosecutors on the active eligible lists for those positions.” 

The court document goes on to say that between Oct. 1 and 4, the ADDA learned Gascón planned to appoint three to four more deputy public defenders or deputy alternate public defenders to other prominent positions in his office.   

In the petition — a request sent to a judge requesting the court order the defendant to halt a certain present action — the ADDA is asking the court to order Gascón to stop hiring until the ongoing appeals and litigation are resolved.   

“The Los Angeles County Charter and civil service protections were designed to ensure good government by protecting independent institutions from political cronyism. However, these protections are not self-executing,” said the statement issued by the ADDA on Thursday. “The lawsuit seeks to stop the sitting district attorney, George Gascón, from filling the civil service ranks with political loyalists and financial supporters.”  

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