Written by Vincent Cain
Two senior Los Angeles county prosecutors are suing their boss, District Attorney George Gascon, because of the demotions they claim they received after opposing his reform directives, which have produced a second recall attempt and received backlash from law enforcement and elected officials.
The veteran prosecutors and bureau directors, Maria Ramirez, and Victor Rodriguez, were supervisors of hundreds of employees before their demotion in response to their worries about how crimes were being prosecuted, per a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Both plaintiffs were directors of bureaus and were removed from their positions in retaliation for disclosing violations of law and/or refusing to violate law concerning unlawful practices and policies of … George Gascón and/or other high officials in the Gascon administration,” the suit states.
Gascon, who took office in December 2020, implemented a series of controversial reforms that have since come under fire. These reforms include not trying juveniles as adults, not seeking the death penalty, or sentencing enhancements, among other measures. However, Gascon has since walked back to his juvenile policy after controversy ensued over a convicted sex offender.
One of his earlier directives “abolished the ability of prosecutors to file certain crimes against juveniles, if the crime also qualified as a strike,” the lawsuit said. This stopped prosecutors from prosecuting juvenile suspects of more than one crime, even if they committed multiple offenses against multiple victims.
“Plaintiff Ramirez disclosed to District Attorney George Gascon and his immediate staff that his Youth Justice Directive was unlawful because it violated California’s Marsy’s law, and would cause untruthful charging practices by line prosecutors, violating their ethical obligations when following the directives,” the lawsuit states.
Ramirez and Rodriguez both saw unethical practices taking place, and when they refused to participate in them, they were demoted. An example of this is when Ramirez told Gascon about an “unethical and unlawful disposition of a case through a backroom deal that shortened the life sentence of a murderer” to just seven years in prison. She was then demoted Sept. 7, 2021, because of the “disclosures and refusals to violate the law,” the lawsuit said.
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