Deputy district attorneys to vote on backing Gascón recall

Politics and government

By Signal Staff 

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys, representing more than 800 deputy district attorneys of Los Angeles County, will hold a membership vote on whether to endorse the recall of District Attorney George Gascón. 

“The ADDA believes that this important question must be answered in a fair, transparent and democratic manner,” said a prepared statement issued Friday by the ADDA. “In that spirit, we have given the district attorney the opportunity to speak directly to the membership and answer their questions. We look forward to this important exchange.” 

The organization has sent a letter to Gascón inviting him to participate in a webinar with the association’s membership.  

“Over the course of our existence, the ADDA has worked with three different district attorneys and their administrations to address issues and resolve problems related to wages, hours and working conditions,” reads the ADDA letter to Gascón. “This relationship was strengthened by mutual respect, openness and transparency. Unfortunately, over the past year, we have seen a strain in that relationship due to a new era of secrecy on the part of some members of your management staff.” 

The letter adds that the members of the ADDA share many of the same concerns as those voiced by proponents of the recall: That Gascón’s policies on criminal justice endanger the public — in particular his directives eliminating the prosecution of multiple categories of crimes, banning his deputies from pursuing the death penalty and preventing them from seeking sentencing enhancements for those convicted of violent crimes or gang activity.  

Gascón has repeatedly defended his policies, saying they are part of a broad effort to reform the criminal justice system and give those convicted of crimes an opportunity for redemption. He contends his election to the office in November 2020 affirms that voters support his efforts.  

Multiple cities in Los Angeles County — including Santa Clarita — have issued votes of no confidence in Gascón, attributing a countywide rise in crime to the policies that Gascón’s critics say favor criminals and endanger the public. 

Said the ADDA letter: “Over the past months, many of our members have asked us to take a position on an unprecedented and pressing public question: whether to recall and replace you as Los Angeles County’s district attorney. This was not the first time members made this plea. Last year, a similar request was made. We took no action.”  

“A recall of a public official is only warranted by a serious breach of the public trust,” the letter said. “There were early signs of this breach — from violating the County Charter’s civil service rules to forcing your deputies to seek judicial intervention against illegal provisions of your directives. The breach we see as the most harmful is your purposeful inaction in the face of increasing and distressing violence against innocent members of the public. We hoped that there would be a course correction. We have seen none.” 

The letter adds that it would be inappropriate for the ADDA’s seven-member board of directors to act for its entire membership on something of this magnitude, so the entire ADDA membership will be given an opportunity to vote on whether to support the recall, whose organizers are in the process of collecting petition signatures with a goal of placing the recall on a countywide ballot. To qualify for the ballot, the petition drive needs to gather 567,000 signatures by July 6. 

In advance of the ADDA vote, the organization’s board invited Gascón to participate in a virtual town hall with the membership on Feb. 16, 17, 18 or 19. The letter gives Gascón until Wednesday to respond. 

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