Opinion: George Gascon Denies ADDA’s Request to Revisit Victim Exposure Elimination Program

With just a few hours notice, District Attorney George Gascon canceled a meeting his staff had scheduled a week ago with the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ADDA’s request to reconsider its decision to terminate the Victim Impact Program (VIP).

VIP is a division of specially trained attorneys who handle the most sensitive cases in the office such as domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, child abuse, hate crimes, sex crimes and stalking. Gascon’s planned reorganization will reduce the number of experienced lawyers handling these cases.

“Gascon’s decision to disembowel this important unit is reckless, self-serving and punitive,” ADDA president Michel Hanise said. “It will make victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse less safe, and in many cases put their lives at risk. But what do you expect from a guy who never heard a case or was supposed to help a traumatized crime victim navigate the legal process.”

At a time when reporting of domestic violence and sexual assault is at dangerously high levels, cuts in Gascon are:

  • Reduce the number of lawyers with specialized training and experience required to handle such cases;
  • Increase the workload of already overworked lawyers tasked with handling sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and hate crime cases;
  • To shift the responsibility for handling many of these cases to prosecutors who are not trained to handle them;
  • Remove the most experienced domestic violence and sexual harassment prosecutors from courts across the county;
  • Lead to predictably catastrophic consequences for the county’s most vulnerable victims.

These changes effectively move deputy district attorneys to give the appearance of making changes, but actually reduce the number of prosecutors dealing with these sensitive issues.

“No one but George Gascon’s insular and inexperienced executive team thinks this is a good idea,” said ADDA vice president Eric Siddall. “This level of mismanagement and incompetence is typical of Gascon. His stubborn refusal to suspend or rethink this petty power tantrum is arrogance, irresponsibility, and a threat to public safety.”

In April 2022, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Victim Impact Program managers sent George Gascon and his executive team a detailed, data-driven memorandum warning the administration in no uncertain terms that people would suffer and die if he did not flood these units with additional resources and personnel.

On February 15, 2023, a memo from the managers was leaked to the media. Less than 24 hours later, Gascon dissolved the divisions and retaliated against many of the managers who wrote the memorandum. The dangerous reorganization of Gascon will take effect tomorrow.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is a collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys serving in Los Angeles County.

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