Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has only been in office a little over two months, but he is already a boil on the side of Lady Justice. Gascon has not only raised the ire of the Deputy District Attorneys in his office, but of District Attorneys in other counties across the State. Gascon’s “Special Directives” are being disregarded by local and regional law enforcement, and the liberal-leaning District Attorneys Union has filed a restraining order against him.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold, and Judge James C. Chalfant have recently neutered Gascon’s policies of removing enhancements and special circumstances in criminal cases, and not enforcing three-strike allegations.
In December 2020, California Globe documented Judge Arnold’s exchange with D.D.A. Jeffrey Herring, where he pointed out that the California Penal Code stands “in the interest of justice,” and only the California Legislature can pass laws: not the Governor, and not the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Sounds hauntingly familiar.
On February 8, Judge Chalfant,
“ruled mostly in favor of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County in a petition brought against District Attorney George Gascon, saying he cannot order his prosecutors to ignore laws that the union says protect the public, including three-strike allegations and sentencing enhancements.”
Judge issues injunction barring Gascón’s new directives, says the DA must ‘comply with the law’ https://t.co/ScOy4Esmae
— Forever Transformed (@cathielolo) February 8, 2021
DDA @jonathanhatami will be on @ABC7 in between 4 & 5 pm today & on @foxandfriends tomorrow at 4:30 am PST discussing Judge Chalfant’s injunction preventing Gascon from refusing to prosecute Three Strikes Law and Special Circumstances. “Today is a good day, LA. Justice was done.
— Cece Woods (@ceceswoods) February 8, 2021
“One such inmate from Los Angeles County, convicted serial child rapist Ruben Beltran, has a parole hearing coming up March 11. He is serving a 15 years to life sentence after raping and assaulting a six-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, who are siblings. Beltran was a friend of the family who was temporarily living in the home to help with repairs. The victims were recently informed about the parole hearing then learned that Gascon’s new policy forbids attendance by the Deputy DA – and even forbids advocating against the inmate’s release, such as through writing a letter.
“The victims’ mother told Fox 11 Los Angeles that she wrote Gascon asking him to reconsider his policy so the Deputy DA could attend the parole hearing about three weeks ago but hasn’t heard back, so she and her children spoke to Fox Wednesday night. Their identities are not being revealed.”
Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami has added a new level of push back on Gascon’s barely established tenure. Hatami has led the charge against Gascon’s radical upending of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Hatami has been a fierce critic of his boss and has vowed to not adhere to Gascon’s new policy changes. As RedState reported, Gascon and his staff have mounted a retaliation campaign against Hatami. This targeting of Hatami has reached boiling point, so he has engaged attorney Brian Claypool and filed a lawsuit against Gascon, alleging harassment and defamation.
Deputy DA Jon Hatami outside the Hall of Justice in downtown LA. He intends to sue his boss, LA County DA George Gascon for defamation, a hostile work environment and more. Hear the story @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/MYNFyumgLK
— Margaret Carrero (@KNXmargaret) February 10, 2021
BREAKING: Today attorney for DDA @jonathanhatami filed a lawsuit against @LADAOffice @maxxszabo & county for hostile work environment. Press conference with Atty Claypool and DDA Hatami tomorrow at HOJ 12 noon. pic.twitter.com/e7ZBOY83aO
— The Local (@thelocalmalibu) February 9, 2021
Claypool’s presser outlined the specific allegations in the case.
“We have a new District Attorney that is trashing his own Deputy District Attorney and knowingly defaming him.” Claypool said.
Apparently, certain Public Defenders are also piling on to discredit Hatami, because these policy changes work in their client’s favor. RedState reported that Gascon even has a P.D. on his Public Safety Committee whose purpose is to keep a list and intimidate “rogue” D.A.s and Judges who will not adhere to his Special Directives. I guess Judges Arnold and Chalfant have now made that list.
DDA Jon Hatami goes to Fox and Friends to engage in yet more fear mongering and spreading falsehoods.
“First off I don’t know anybody personally, who supports his directives unless that person’s a criminal.”
Gascón is “pro criminal.”https://t.co/AldMzAWJWp
— Garrett Miller (@gmillerLA) February 10, 2021
According to ABC7 News, Gascon and his staff have made public comments that were directed at Hatami. Two instances were noted:
- In a podcast Gascon sat down for before he took office, he responded to a question about what type of resistance he’d receive from Deputy District Attorney’s on his staff to the drastic shifts he planned to implement. Gascon told the interviewer: “Some people will be unhappy and they’ll either become internal terrorists or they’ll leave. I certainly know how to deal with both.”
Hatami responded to this, telling ABC7 News,
“I am not a terrorist. No Deputy D.A.s are terrorists—and it’s inappropriate.”
Gascon’s office is also making aspersions on Hatami’s mental fitness.
- In a written statement, Gascon’s personal spokesman Max Zabo said, “Hatami’s delusional theories raise questions as to one’s fitness to practice law.”
“Your newly elected District Attorney George Gascon said that one of the best prosecutors in the country is unfit to practice law, and delusional.”
As ABC7 News noted, this goes beyond insults. Sullying the fitness and reputation of a Deputy District Attorney opens the door to damaging open cases and cases that have been closed, either through plea bargain or conviction at trial. Defendants would be able to file an appeal, alleging that because of Hatami’s bias or lack of fitness, they did not receive a fair trial. In the highly-charged case of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, his mother Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre could use these statements against Hatami to overturn their convictions on torture and murder in order to get a new trial.
This is what is at stake not only for Hatami, but any victims for whom his prosecutorial work has successfully obtained justice.