L.A. District Attorney George Gascón Enlists Help of Former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal to Advance Progressive Agenda, Defeat Lawsuit

George Gascon at a candidate’s forum in February 2020

By Karisa Cortez and Tatiana Gasca

LOS ANGELES, CA – Former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal has recently joined Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s to help fight a lawsuit trying to stop progressive changes.

The lawsuit, The Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County v. the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and District Attorney Gascón, aims to stop Gascon’s mandate of stopping prosecutors from seeking prior felony conviction enhancements.

This includes gun possession and the violation of the “three strikes” law that lengthened sentences for convicted suspects.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County is arguing Gascón cannot do this because it violates state penal code.

In its statement the association claims, “The directives violate California law, which imposes a mandatory duty on prosecutors to plead and prove strike priors,” and “Dismissals of those priors can only be based on individual circumstances, not a blanket policy.”

With Katyal on board, Gascón will challenge Los Angeles’ current criminal justice reform policies as they have affected communities of color.

Katyal is currently a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. In addition to being a partner at Hogan Lovells Washington, D.C. Katyal has served as the acting Solicitor General for President Barack Obama, and is considered one of the top lawyers in the country.

His extensive experience includes Constitutional law – Katyal has argued more than 40 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

With Katyal’s knowledge, Gascón finds him to be a significant asset in reforming Los Angeles County criminal justice system.

Gascón states, “Neal is one of the top lawyers in the nation and his vast legal experience will only benefit my mission to help reform the criminal justice system in Los Angeles County. I am confident that with Neal’s assistance we will prevail and continue on a path to achieve these goals.”

Founder and Executive Director of the Prosecutor Alliance of California, Cristine Berry, had more to add: “It is incredibly appropriate that he will be litigating a case with extraordinary consequences for communities of color that have disproportionately felt the weight of racist sentencing policies, like enhancements, and that simply have not made us safer.”

As an exceptional addition to Gascón’s County Counsel, Katyal’s recruitment supports the need for criminal justice reform, as it is essential to the underlying issues of racial inequities.

By enhancing public safety within the Los Angeles County, Gascón’s mission aims to prevent prosecutors from referencing prior felony convictions.

Gascón’s policies intend to move the criminal justice system in a new direction.

About The Author

Karisa Cortez is an incoming fourth year Politics major with minors in history and media studies at the University of San Francisco. She is from San Jose, CA and is currently living in San Francisco.

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