May 12, 2021 19:00

Judge Orders Gascón to Defend ‘3 Strikes’ Policy Change

A Los Angeles County judge on Wednesday ordered new District Attorney George Gascón to show why criminal justice reforms he enacted — which county prosecutors say conflict with state law — should not be blocked, Courthouse News Service reports. The order by Superior Court Judge David Cowan stems from a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles (ADDA). The union’s lawsuit comes less than a month after Gascón took office and enacted reforms prosecutors say run afoul of state laws, including the state’s Three Strikes Law. Gascón acknowledged the criminal justice system will take time to adjust to his reforms, which he said voters demanded by electing him over the incumbent D.A.Jackie Lacey.

“The will of the voters must not be mistaken as a commentary on the hundreds of deputy DAs who labor, day in and day out, to protect the public,” said Gascón. “They are public servants who have earned our utmost respect and gratitude.  They certainly have mine — and a sincere invitation to join me in making these much-needed changes.” Gascón promised sweeping changes which he delivered Dec. 7 — his first day in office — when he eliminated cash bail for misdemeanor charges and told prosecutors to stop seeking the death penalty. He also ordered prosecutors to stop filing “criminal enhancements.” Under California’s Three Strikes Law, prior convictions of two criminal charges can increase sentences to 25 years to life in prison. Deputy DAs argue that Gascón’s policies violate prosecutors’ oaths of office to uphold state law. University of California, Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Stanford Law School professor David Mills and Michael Romano of Stanford’s Three Strikes Project said the California Supreme Court gives district attorneys complete authority on how to enforce state law in their counties.

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