This is the final installment of a series of questions and answers with the candidates for Los Angeles District Attorney. Thank you for reading and we hope the series has been informative.
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has not been a friend to victims. As Gavin would say – Period. Full Stop.
He has barred prosecutors from attending parole hearings, he has been accused of using strong arm tactics on victims’ families to get them to agree to lower sentences, and he has even berated them in public.
That criminal good, victim annoying attitude is one of the major reasons Gascon has failed as a district attorney, no matter what the Los Angeles Times says.
Let’s get to today’s questions:
How should the victim of the the crime be involved in the prosecution of the offender?
As district attorney, I would reinstate the policy pertaining to lifer-hearings where victim’s families are notified and be given the opportunity to be heard. Surviving victims and victim’s families will be encouraged to participate in victim impact statement to the court at the sentencing hearing.
Crime victims and their families should be treated with respect by the criminal justice system. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the law. The California Victims Bill of Rights Act of 2008, also known as Marsy’s Law, gives crime victims rights equal to the accused. These rights include being treated with dignity throughout criminal justice proceedings; being notified of their rights as victims of crime; being notified of specific public proceedings throughout the criminal justice process and the right to be heard during those proceedings. Under D.A. Gascon, prosecutors are prohibited from attending parole hearings and no longer work with crime victims to pursue the continued incarceration of violent offenders. That will change when I’m the District Attorney. My prosecutors will travel to parole hearings and support crime victims in opposing parole for violent offenders. It’s simply the right thing to do.
The victim has a right to be heard and part of the process pursuant to Marsy’s Law. Long before the enactment of Marsy’s Law, I routinely involved the victims when discussing case settlement and other key decisions to make sure they felt their voices were being heard and their needs were being met. Likewise, I enlisted victim witness services in each and every case where I was statutorily allowed to do so. These resources are vital to the victim in order to make them whole, to the extent that it is possible. I frequently had to relocate victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse to shield them from their perpetrator. As District Attorney, I will continue to ensure those services are available to all victims of crime when appropriate.
Victims should not be further victimized. I am the only candidate that represents victims and witnesses in criminal cases to ensure that their constitutional rights are not violated. The DA’s office should not have their own victims arrested and held on extremely high bail for missing a single day of court. Gascón’s office does this. Under the California Constitution, victims have the right “to be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.” All too often the current DA and his predecessors violate these rights. However, we must also make sure that attorneys without standing not be allowed to interfere with court proceedings. As for parole hearings, I have no issue with prosecutors attending them, so long as they are there to truly seek justice and be objective.
A victim’s voice should never be silenced. Marsy’s Law mandates that victims be informed about every step of a criminal prosecution. Moreover, prosecutors have an ethical duty to ensure that victims’ rights are respected. While the ultimate decision on the appropriate sentence for a criminal offender lies with the prosecution and the judge, a victim has the right to be heard on what they think is an appropriate sentence and to express how the crime has affected them. Prosecutors have a duty to support the victims of crime from the commission of the offense to sentencing and in parole hearings.
Why has George Gascon failed the community?
Mr. Gascon has been completely derelict in carrying out the duties of the office thereby resulting in great public harm.
There is no end to the list of George Gascon’s failures. He has instituted blanket, pro-criminal policies and taken actions that are not working and have made us less safe, has destroyed morale in the DA’s office, has endangered the DA’s partnership with law enforcement, and has damaged the DA’s Office’s credibility, trust, and confidence with the public.
I am running to remove politics from prosecutorial decisions and restore independence, honesty, and integrity to prevent crime, protect public safety, and ensure justice is served to all LA County residents. Unlike the current DA who has never prosecuted or defended a single criminal case in his entire life, I have prosecuted over 100 cases as a federal prosecutor, ranging from environmental criminals, narcotics traffickers, and violent gang members to international money launders and bank and tax defrauders. In addition, I was presidentially nominated, unanimously Senate confirmed as the U.S. Assistant Attorney General running the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Tax Division; the President of the L.A. City Ethics Commission; the head of two major international law firms’ government investigations practices; and co-founder of the L.A. Sheriff’s Foundation. With my over 34 years of criminal justice experience on all sides of the aisle and proven leadership experience with government, private practice, and community organizations, I promise to restore public safety, reinvigorate the partnership with law enforcement, and rehabilitate the DA’s Office’s reputation with the public from Day One. This is my promise to our community.
George Gascón has failed the community by abandoning critical priorities like public safety and victims’ rights advocacy in favor of weak leadership and empty rhetoric. The DA victimizes criminals by placing their needs first while blaming victims when they bravely step forward. At the same time, Gascón has allowed pervasive issues like addiction, mental illness, and homelessness to fester, opting not to use his position of power to improve conditions for the citizens living under tarps and in tents throughout our county. Allowing our fellow human beings to live in these conditions is inhumane and will not be tolerated under my Administration.
Gascón’s unsuccessful reforms have damaged San Francisco and now threaten LA County just 3 short years into his tenure. Unlike Gascón, I have prosecuted over 100 jury trials, attended more than 150 parole board hearings, and spent 35 years in a courtroom. He has done none of the above.
I’m not sure why he has failed the community, but I can tell you how – by allowing his deputies to file charges against factually innocent people, by opposing motions for mental health diversion that should be granted, by opposing requests to place people addicted to drugs in treatment programs, by vindictively seeking to punish people for exercising their constitutional right to go to trial, by opposing righteous Fourth Amendment motions, by failing to turn over discovery in a timely manner, by further victimizing victims, and by relying on officers who engage in racial profiling to prosecute cases.
Furthermore, he has failed the community by not filling the hundreds of vacancies in his office. This slows down the criminal justice system, harming defendants and victims alike, and ultimately costing the county millions of dollars.
George Gascon has failed the community because he has failed to consider the real consequences of his policies on the safety and well-being of our communities. He has systemically failed to consult with his own employees and law enforcement to include them in decision making and the effective implementation of public safety policies. Despite being labeled a “reformist,” Gascon has failed in accomplishing real reform to improve the system. He has done nothing to incorporated real reform into the DA’s office approach to criminal offenders with serious mental health, drug addiction and homelessness issues. George Gascon is a failed leader who has prioritized his own agenda, personal ideology and politics over the law and the best interests of our community.
The following candidates did not participate: Eric Siddall, John McKinney, Jon Hatami, Jeff Chemerinsky, and Craig Mitchell.
As to George Gascon, he was asked different but related questions:
You have been roundly criticized for failing crime victims. Do you believe those criticisms are valid and should not the victim (and justice, of course) be paramount in any criminal proceeding?
What are you most proud of during your first term?
Again, he did not reply to the request.
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