LA County DA Gascón defends sentencing changes, responds to prosecutors after lawsuit

Prosecutors to seek restraining order against new LA DA for being soft on crime

The union representing Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys is expected to ask a judge to block their new boss George Gascon from easing up on sentences; William La Jeunesse reports.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón defended his decision to issue directives ordering prosecutors not to pursue legally prescribed enhanced sentences in a variety of cases.

After the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County (ADDA) sued Gascón, claiming that the blanket policies violate state law, Gascón claimed that harsher sentences only cause more problems.

"People must be held accountable, but we often put ppl in prison for extra years, increasing recidivism & creating more victims," Gascón tweeted Wednesday evening. "This is unsafe, unjust & wastes taxpayer $. Prosecutors enter an appearance 'for the people' & the decisions we make must be in the people's interest."

But the organization made up of hundreds of Gascón's prosecutors claim that the people's interest is in protecting the public from those deemed to pose a greater danger. The directives forbid them from seeking longer sentences for repeat offenders under the state's Three Strikes Law, as well as cases including bail violations, gang-related cases, and situations where special circumstances could result in a sentence of life without parole.

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The ADDA's lawsuit called the directives "plainly illegal," claiming that prosecutors "cannot be commanded to violate the very sentencing enhancements that California law mandates."

The complaint even cited judges who warned prosecutors against following the directives.

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"I understand it came from the top. I understand why you’re making the motion, but the Court will deny the motion as to each and every one of the other allegations," Judge Laura F. Priver is quoted as saying to one prosecutor. "You have an ethical duty to do your job and proceed with prosecution. You should not be allowed to abandon the prosecution at this juncture."

The lawsuit calls for court orders to rescind the directives and to end their enforcement.

Fox News' William La Jeunesse contributed to this report.

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