LA DA George Gascon published a letter of support today from the LA County Public Defenders Union and other criminal advocates. The letter was not signed by the prosecutor’s union, nor was it signed by any victim’s group or law enforcement group. You can see the full list below.
Gascon’s alliance with these groups is extraordinary, given that they represent criminal defendants, and the DA is sworn to represent the community against criminal defendants. In our adversarial system, the defense bar, including public defenders, typically try to frustrate the district attorney at every turn. Getting their client off, by technicality or advocacy, is their goal. This opposition is based on their role as aggressive advocates from their clients, who have been arrested and charged with crimes. The idea is that aggressive prosecutors advocate the community’s position, while aggressive defenders argue the criminal’s position. Once both sides have had a fair hearing, the judge or jury determines the truth.
In the past, this advocacy has extended out of the courtroom and into the public sphere. For example, the California District Attorney’s Association advocates for “sentencing reform, the death penalty, victims’ rights, body worn cameras, and public safety funding.” Here are some examples from other California prosecutors:
By contrast, advocates for criminals speak out against these measures.
Color of Change signed Gascon’s letter. The CDAA, the OCDA, the SDCDA, and the Amador County DA are not signatories to the letter. Indeed, Gascon’s letter seems to underline the radical difference between his office and others. Specifically, he seems to have lost the support of his own office and gained the support of his professional opponents.
In a tweet, Gascon says “opponents to reform are desperately turning to fear-mongering & scare tactics.” This echoes language in the letter itself, which describes “the open resistance and brazen hostility displayed by some judges, commissioners, and even factions of the DA’s staff who oppose Mr. Gascon’s new directives.”
Here’s the full text.
Here’s Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer on the crisis in Los Angeles.
Here’s LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.