In almost unanimous vote, L.A. prosecutors support District Attorney Gascon’s recall

Scott Schwebke

The Orange County Register

In a nearly unanimous vote, a union representing about 700 Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Tuesday it will support the recall of District Attorney George Gascón.

With nearly 84% participation from its membership, voter turnout exceeded all previous elections held by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. About 98% of those who voted support recalling the progressive Gascón.

“This vote is by those who are intimately familiar with how Mr. Gascón’s policies actually play out on a day-to-day basis,” ADDA President Michele Hanisee said in a statement. “We believe the vote of our members will resonate with the voters of Los Angeles as they decide whether to recall Gascón from office and restore public safety as the priority of the District Attorney’s Office.”

Gascón had no comment on the vote, said Elise Moore, his campaign spokesperson.

More than 30 Los Angeles County cities have issued no confidence votes for the embattled district attorney. In another political blow, former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck earlier this month withdrew support for Gascón.

Declined prosecutors’ invitation

The ADDA vote came after Gascón refused an invitation to address prosecutors and explain what the union described as his “serious breach of the public trust.”

“Regarding the invitation, I respectfully decline,” Gascón said in a letter to Hanisee. “I am not ignorant to the fact that there are those who vehemently oppose my philosophy and ideology when it comes to how the criminal legal system should operate.

“Before I was elected to this position by over 2 million residents of Los Angeles County, a false narrative about me began, and it has continued ever since,” he wrote. “These fear tactics did not work then, and they are not working now. Instead of focusing on political rhetoric, I want to focus on the issues facing the women, men and gender nonconforming deputy district attorneys that go to work each day to pursue justice.”

Since taking office in December 2020, Gascón has refused to speak directly with prosecutors to explain his policies, but during his election campaign met with Los Angeles County public defenders to field prescreened questions, according to the ADDA.

“Over a year ago, Gascón began a massive social experiment by redirecting prosecutorial resources away from enforcing the law while simultaneously ignoring large portions of the penal code,” ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall said. “The result is an emboldened criminal element that knows the DA will not hold criminals accountable. This experiment needs to end.”

An earlier recall effort against Gascon was aborted in 2021, but a second campaign has been launched and is actively circulating petitions. Nearly 580,000 signatures are needed by Oct. 26 to qualify a recall for the ballot, which probably would be in November.

Policy reversal

Until last week, Gascón defended one of his most controversial policy decisions even after pushback in the case involving Hannah Tubbs, a transgender woman who in 2014 — just two weeks before her 18th birthday — sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl inside a Denny’s restroom in Palmdale.

Tubbs pleaded guilty to the attack in January and was sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility after Gascón refused to transfer the case to adult court.

On Monday, Fox News released recordings  of Tubbs, while in jail prior to her sentencing, telling her father she expected to receive a slap on the wrist and would not be forced to register as a sex offender.

“I’m gonna plead out to it, plead guilty,” Tubbs says in the recording obtained by the network. “They’re gonna stick me on probation, and it’s gonna be dropped, it’s gonna be done, I won’t have to register, won’t have to do nothing.”

Gascón has since expressed regret how Tubbs’ sentencing was handled and has modified his policies to allow juveniles to be tried and sentenced as adults in some circumstances.

“We learned a lot from the Hannah Tubbs case about the need for a policy safety valve,” he said in a statement. “After her sentencing in our case, I became aware of extremely troubling statements she made about her case, the resolution of it and the young girl that she harmed. If we knew about her disregard for the harm she caused, we would have handled this case differently. The complex issues and facts of her particular case were unusual, and I should have treated them that way.”

Prosecutors have told the Southern California News Group that Gascón’s top aides were informed of the recordings before Tubbs was sentenced.

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