The president of the California District Attorney’s Association (CDAA) called Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s decision to cut ties with the group a “publicity stunt.”
Gascón announced Tuesday that he would be leaving the association, claiming the lack of diversity and the group’s “tough on crime” approach didn’t fall in line with his goals.
“CDAA continues to be a member organization solely for those willing to toe the ‘tough on crime’ line,” his statement read. “For the rest of us, it is a place that fails to support us, our communities, or the pursuit of justice.”
Learning from history is essential to our growth and progress.
But eventually we must forge ahead for a better future.
— George Gascón (@GeorgeGascon) February 16, 2021
“The absence of a single person of color on CDAA’s 17-member board is blinding,” he continued. “This is the leadership that sets the direction for an organization of elected prosecutors, all of whom disproportionately prosecute communities of color at a time when the nation is facing a reckoning over systemic racism, and in a state with a plurality of minorities no less.”
“Whether by ignorance or defiance, the extent to which CDAA has lost touch with the public its members are elected to represent and serve is just baffling.”
President of the CDAA and the El Dorado County District Attorney, Vern Pierson, said in a statement to the Daily Caller that Gascón was doing this as a “publicity stunt.”
“Mr. Gascón cannot resign because he has not been a member of CDAA since October 2019 when he quit his job as DA of San Francisco,” Pierson said.
“On the ethnicity issue, his remarks are disingenuous, as he ran against the first sitting Los Angeles District Attorney who was both a woman and an African American. Incidentally, she was a CDAA board officer and in line to become president.”
“This appears to be a publicity stunt to divert attention from his favoring criminals at the expense of victims and growing calls for his recall,” Pierson continued, noting shootings and other violent crimes were increasing in LA.
Gascón also criticized the CDAA for choosing to “abandon prosecutorial discretion, a hallmark of our profession” after he “chose to use it to seek a downward departure in punishment.”
The CDAA filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit brought by the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) against Gascón after he tried to bypass California’s Three Strikes law. (RELATED: ‘He’s Like The Devil’: Murdered Cop’s Family Criticizes New Los Angeles DA Over Sentencing)
“No constitutional provision and no statute vests any district attorney with veto power over the law,” the CDAA said in a statement. “No prosecutor – elected or otherwise – may disregard these solemn responsibilities nor direct his subordinates to do so.”
The ADDA and others argued that if they were to follow Gascón’s directive they would be violating the Three Strikes law.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction on Feb. 8 barring Gascón from refusing to prosecute the law.
“The district attorney’s disregard of the Three Strikes ‘plead and prove’ requirement is unlawful, as is requiring deputy district attorneys to seek dismissal of pending sentencing enhancements without a lawful basis,” the ruling reads.
An enhancement would apply in cases where a defendant commits a crime with an aggravated factor such as using a gun to commit a robbery. Under the state’s Three Strikes law if someone is convicted of two criminal charges then an enhancement charge could tack on extra years to their sentence.
Gascón issued a directive upon taking office that barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty or filing sentencing enhancements.