State D.A. Association Files Amicus Brief Against DA George Gascón’s Progressive Criminal Justice Reforms

By Macy Lu and Nancy Aviña

LOS ANGELES – The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) announced on this week it will file an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) in response to Los Angeles’s District Attorney George Gascón’s progressive directives.

The ADDA is known as the professional association for LA County’s deputy district attorneys while the CDAA serves as a forum in which new information in the criminal justice field is discussed. DA Gascón was a member of the CDAA during his time as San Francisco DA.

In a letter written to the CDAA last week, the ADDA president Michael Hanisbee urged the group to “issue an opinion on the implications of these policies for the prosecutors…who feel they are being directed to violate the law, the California Constitution, and their duties of professional responsibility.”

In response to ADDA’s plea, the CDAA agreed it harbors “grave concerns” that these directives directly “[violate] the state’s constitutional protection of crime victims” and will promptly file an amicus brief to bolster the ADDA’s pushback against them.

To justify involvement with the lawsuit, President Vern Pierson stated that CDAA “must take a position when policies implemented by an individual District Attorney go beyond the exercise of discretion and contravene both the state constitution and prosecutor ethics.”.

Various concerns are coming from the CDAA involving sentencing enhancement, bail, and parole hearing. CDAA’s concerns state that the policies implemented by District Attorney Gascón “undermines California’s bedrock expectation.”

When speaking of sentencing enhancements, the CDAA believes they are essential to truly having a fair view of justice involving the granular facts and situation behind the crime.

For example, if a defendant commits a robbery using a handgun, enhancements allow prosecutors to charge both the robbery and usage of the gun.

“By prohibiting the gun enhancement, this new policy seeks to punish a gun-wielding robber the same as a defendant who snatches a purse from a victim’s shoulder,” the CDAA said in its response to the ADDA.

Regarding Gascón’s bail directive, the CDAA states that the new bail directive prevents prosecutors from successfully advocating for crime victims. The new directive, CDAA believes, fails to address a “victim’s constitutional rights to have their safety considered when setting bail”

Additionally, when it comes to the parole hearing directive, the CDAA is largely concerned that Los Angeles County will no longer require prosecutors to attend parole hearings.

“This directive requires that prosecutors cease from evaluating the ongoing criminal propensities of a prison inmate, because there is ‘already a presumption that people shall be released when they have reached their minimum eligibility parole date,’” said CDAA.

This too seems to invalidate the rights of victims, according to the CDAA, requiring prosecutors to “facilitate an inmate’s release, without regard for the victim’s needs and wishes, nor the public’s safety.”

Macy is a junior from Orange County, CA studying Communications and English at UC Davis. She loves meeting people, reading books, and writing creatively.

Nancy is a third-year Communication and Political Science – Public Service Double Major at the University of California, Davis originally from Morgan Hill, California.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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