There is upheaval within the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, and it appears treacherous.
The Globe has reported extensively on LA District Attorney George Gascón, who moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to run for DA in 2020, and spent more than $2.5 million of billionaire oligarch George Soros’ money to win.
We reported In December shortly after his election, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County filed a civil lawsuit asking that newly elected DA George Gascón follow California state constitutional and statutory law. In January, the California District Attorneys Association announced it would file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the lawsuit by the Los Angeles ADDAs against Gascón because of his radical new directives.
Since his election, Gascón has issued one directive after another, undermining the rule of law, while simultaneously placing the Deputy District Attorneys in the worst possible position of questioning whether they follow their legal and ethical responsibilities, or risk getting disciplined or fired by Gascón.
Most recently, the LA Deputy District Attorneys received a letter from Joseph F. Iniguez, Interim Chief Deputy District Attorney, saying the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation claims the Assistant DAs are violating HIPAA protections of currently incarcerated inmates seeking resentencing under medical claims, by requesting proof of COVID treatments and relevant medical proof. The Globe was told that inmates are attempting to be released from prison for medical reasons “due to COVID risk,” and some have already been released, even when they have received the COVID vaccine.
Deputy DAs in LA have merely asked for proof of medical necessity for the release, but say that DA Gascón shuts them down, further solidifying his “pro-criminal” chops.
From Iniguez’s letter:
It has been brought to my attention that DDAs have been calling CDCR to secure COVID vaccine and other medical information on individuals who have been recommended for resentencing due to COVID risk by the Secretary of CDCR. This information is protected by HIPPA and should not be sought by DDAs without a court order. Moreover, the information is not relevant to the Secretary’s recommendation. We confirmed with the Secretary herself that the recommendations stand whether or not an individual has been vaccinated due to many factors including, but not limited to, the fact that no one knows the longevity of the vaccine, there are too many unknowns with variants, and the European variant may soon impact the prison population.
Please inform Head Deputies that the CDCR’s medical determination of High Risk COVID Medical must be followed and conceded to as part of any analysis of these 1170(d) petitions. Thank you.
The proper channel for inmate resentencing is to send the request back to the original DA unit which tried the case, and judge who ordered sentencing. However, some Deputy DAs say not only is that not happening, DA Gascón is now setting up a special unit to deal with resentencing cases, rather than send back to the original DA and Judge.
The Globe spoke with a source at the Los Angeles DA’s office, on condition of anonymity, who said the traditional way to judge an inmate resentencing request is to take many factors into consideration: the nature of the crime; his conduct in prison; whether he took educational courses for self-improvement and continuing education; the inmate’s overall attitude based on CDCR reports, etc… “But now, if the CDCR requests a COVID release, we are to condone this without evidence?” the source asked rhetorically. “Prosecutors know there’s a lot of BS — they [inmates] can claim anything they want. Judges usually do their own resentencing.”
“It’s patently offensive to anyone with a brain,” the source said. “CDCR has released thousands of inmates under COVID – this is pure corruption.”
“It is not in the interest of justice. The truth is a mild afterthought,” the source added. “The Chief Deputy is saying ‘we don’t want you to have access to their medical history,’ when really, they just want these people released.
DA Gascón’s office posted this under its resentencing policy: “The District Attorney’s Office is currently in the process of establishing a Resentencing Unit that will eventually process and review cases for resentencing consideration pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(d). The Resentencing Unit will prioritize cases for resentencing based on governing law, careful review of available data, individual case files, public safety, and policy priorities specified by the District Attorney. Additional details concerning the District Attorney’s resentencing policy are contained in Special Directive 20-14.”
On a side note, HIPAA protections were of no concern to the state when Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered contact tracing of the law-abiding California citizens who tested positive for COVID. That went on for the better part of a year – clearly in violation of HIPAA privacy protections.
Next: The real cost of Recidivism.