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Lawsuits Against L.A. County's Gascon Show Inside Turmoil

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón may have survived a recall attempt, but behind the scenes, his office is still a mess, Courthouse News Service reports. In a court filing last month, the DA's office said several members of its staff have experienced "threats of physical harm, experienced physical intimidation, and been relentlessly harassed online" after their testimony in an ongoing civil service proceeding. That harassment, which they said is largely online, has been encouraged by social media posts of current and former prosecutors. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA), the union representing rank-and-file prosecutors, filed a lawsuit in 2020, weeks after Gascón took office, in an effort to block his reforms. A judge sided with the union in part, and ruled that prosecutors could still ask for certain sentencing enhancements, including one based on California's three strikes law.


The ADDA sued Gascón again in 2021 over six new hires by the DA, all from the public defenders office, another county agency. The issue was that the attorneys were hired with "grade III" and "grade IV" designations, civil service levels that correspond with higher pay. Usually, prosecutors must work for a certain amount of time and take a written test before attaining the positions. These new hires, the union said, were effectively jumping the queue. Although the dispute is on its face about pay designations and civil service rules, its subtext runs much deeper. Some of the former public defenders have been accused of harboring left-wing ideologies — for example, believing that the police should be "defunded" or that prisons should be abolished or "reimagined." Fighting the new hires was yet another way for rank-and-file prosecutors to contest Gascón's reforms.

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