The California District Attorney's Association is supporting a lawsuit against Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon.
Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward is a CDAA board member.
The CDAA announced on Tuesday it will file an amicus brief
filed by the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys. CDAA’s actions are in response to a request from the ADDA, the union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors, which asked CDAA to weigh in on the directives.
The lawsuit is over Gascon's decision to issue directives ordering prosecutors not to pursue legally prescribed enhanced sentences in a variety of cases.
CDAA responded with an open ethics letter to the ADDA expressing grave concern regarding some of the Gascon's new policies, stating one it said compels prosecutors to read a blanket statement in court which, in some cases, violates the state’s constitutional protection of crime victims.
New sentencing guidelines, issued by Gascón in his first day in office, force Los Angeles County prosecutors to read a statement in court that asks for the removal of certain sentencing enhancements, such as possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
“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,” CDAA said in its letter.
CDAA is a training and advocacy group for state prosecutors Gascón was a member of when he served as San Francisco District Attorney, and it rarely addresses policy differences among elected District Attorneys.
As the letter notes, however, CDAA stated it believes it 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.
“The District Attorney does not possess the legal power to dispense with his deputies’ constitutional and statutory obligations to crime victims or the duty of candor by imposing a mandate to read a script,” said CDAA president Vern Pierson.
The amicus brief will be filed later this month.
Gascon has defended his policies. In a tweet last month he stated: “People must be held accountable but we often put ppl in prison for extra years, increasing recidivism & creating more victims. This is unsafe & wastes taxpayers $. Prosecutors enter an appearance “for the people” & the decisions we make must be in the people's interest.”
In his defense against the lawsuit, Gascon said harsher sentences only cause more problems.