Our View | Hatami Would Restore DA’s Office

Our View

By The Signal Editorial Board

There’s a crowded field of candidates to replace L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón — and making sure Gascón loses his reelection bid just may be the most impactful decision L.A. County voters can make in 2024.

Including Gascón, there are 12 candidates on the March 5 primary ballot — and what most of those 11 challengers have in common is, they disagree with Gascón’s soft-on-crime approach to being the county’s supposed lead prosecutor. 

The question is, which of those challengers is best up to the task?

That’s where we have the utmost confidence in challenger Jonathan Hatami, a proven prosecutor who has our endorsement to be the next district attorney of L.A. County. 

We are proud to say we were the first to editorialize in favor of recalling George Gascón: On Dec. 12, 2020, just days after the newly elected DA issued a series of criminal-friendly directives that are designed to empty the jails — including some orders that stipulated entire categories of crimes simply would not be prosecuted — we editorialized in favor of his removal from office and issued predictions on the impacts of his orders. 

Those predictions have, in the ensuing years, proven true.

“He has in one day destroyed our county’s justice system and demoralized the deputy district attorneys in his office along with law enforcement personnel,” the December 2020 editorial said. 

The first of those deputy district attorneys to publicly speak out against their boss? 

Jonathan Hatami.

Hatami, a Democrat who specializes in prosecuting some of the most gut-wrenching crimes against humanity — those whose victims are children — has been a consistent voice for the past three-plus years calling out Gascón’s policies for what they are: A threat to public safety and an affront to crime victims everywhere.

It took nerve to come out publicly against his new boss like that — anecdotes abound about deputy DA’s being demoted and otherwise punished for not marching in lockstep with Gascón’s dictates. 

But Hatami has a strong sense of justice, and he’s willing to back it up — just the kind of passion that we all should want from our district attorney.

And, unlike his boss who has never actually prosecuted a case in a courtroom, Hatami is a seasoned prosecutor who understands the court system’s roles of advocacy: prosecutors prosecute, and defenders defend.

We feel a Santa Clarita Valley kinship with Hatami, too, as he is a Canyon High School graduate in addition to being an Army veteran who later attended College of the Canyons before earning a full scholarship to law school at the University of Nebraska. He graduated with honors in 2002 and was the class speaker.

He passed the bar in four states, and worked as a Court of Appeals law clerk before working in private practice. In 2006, he found his true calling as a prosecutor, joining the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office. 

In 2016 he was named to serve on the nation’s first Complex Child Abuse unit at the Hall of Justice in Downtown Los Angeles. Three years later, he was named the prosecutor of the year by the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

In 2021, he was the recipient of the ChildHelp Benevolent Heart Award for his commitment to voiceless victims, the CHIA Appreciation Award and the Crime Survivors Above and Beyond Award for leadership.

He and his wife, a detective in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, are raising their two children here in the SCV — and like so many parents, they are invested in preserving the county and this valley as a safe place for kids to grow up.

Hatami’s devotion to the pursuit of justice on behalf of innocent children comes from the heart: He was abused by his father as a child, and knows firsthand what abused children go through. “I know what it feels like to be powerless,” he says on his campaign website. 

L.A. County has become a less safe place — for kids, for everyone — with George Gascón as its district attorney. 

Electing Jonathan Hatami would steer the county away from the chaos Gascón has wrought, and restore the District Attorney’s Office to its proper role as an advocate for public safety — and a voice for victims.

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