A judge has prevented Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón from implementing a substantial part of his criminal justice reforms. The progressive’s policy of ending penal reforms in criminal matters is illegal.
Monday’s decision comes after the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles sued their boss over the changes. The union challenged Gascón’s guidelines, which he issued after taking office in December. The assistant attorneys argued that Gascón’s orders pose serious ethical problems for the assistant prosecutors.
“The court ruled that the district attorney’s policy was against the law to assist criminal defendants and ordered him to comply with the law,” the union said in a statement. “This decision protects the communities that are disproportionately affected by higher crime rates and the victims.”
The lawsuit denied Gascon’s policy of banning the use of penal amendments. The union argued under California’s Three Strikes Act that prosecutors had no discretion to “refuse to seek improvement.”
Penalty enhancements require that people convicted of serious crimes and previously convicted receive longer sentences than those convicted of the same offense but without a previous criminal record. LA prosecutors typically seek longer sentences for defendants with previous criminal convictions or suspected of being a gang member.
Judge James Chalfant agreed with the union’s argument that Gascón’s rules violate California’s three strikes law, which states: “[t]The prosecutor advocates any previous severe or violent conviction of a criminal accused.
Chalfant said the three strikes law “must apply in any case where the accused has previously had a grave or violent conviction and that the prosecutor must bring and prove the strike” except in cases where the previous offense this cannot be proven.
The Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles said in its statement, “As the court ruling clarifies, this decision was based on the law, not what a public official deems right.”
Chalfant’s injunction will not prevent Gascón from preventing his MPs from seeking improved sentences in new cases where the Three Strikes Act does not.
Gascón presented himself to the electorate as a force who will fundamentally transform the criminal justice system of California’s most populous district.
Shortly after he was sworn in to his post, Gascón announced several reforms in addition to his changes to the three-strike policy. This included a call to end the death penalty and to end most uses of bail for misdemeanors or non-violent crimes.
Gascón said in a statement Monday, “My policies are a product of the will of people, including crime survivors, and extensive research showing that this modern approach will improve community security.”
He said he would appeal Chalfant’s decision but in the meantime accept the judge’s order.
“Until the appeal is decided, my office will adjust its guidelines to be consistent with that decision,” he said. “We can no longer afford to morally, socially, or economically justify tough crime policies on behalf of the victims when a majority of survivors support rehabilitation excessive punishment. The long-term health and safety of our community depends on it.”
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