Deputy DA slams George Gascón’s policies, accuses the newly-elected DA of creating hostile work environment
"I will not allow George Gascón to bully me or belittle me or discriminate against me," says Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami.
LOS ANGELES - The longtime Los Angeles County prosecutor is speaking out against his boss, newly-elected George Gascón.
"He just has a blanket policy for every case, no matter what the facts are or aren’t. The same thing applies to a drug case as a murder case and that’s unreasonable and doesn’t make any sense," says Hatami.
On Gascón’s first day on the job, he issued a number of directives that included eliminating all special enhancement allegations. Under his new charging policy, approximately 20,000 inmates will be eligible for re-sentencing consideration.
Gascón has explained that in his opinion, special enhancements lead to mass incarceration.
Hatami says, "I don’t believe in putting a lot of people in prison either. However, he wants to release everybody, there is no differentiation. It’s not like, ‘OK Mr. Hatami, I know your cases are child murderers and torturers, so obviously most people want those individuals to be prosecuted and kept away from the general public.’ He doesn’t even say that."
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Hatami also claims Gascón has created a hostile work environment in which DA’s are forced to lie in court when dropping special enhancement allegations.
"He wants us to say, ‘It’s in the interest of justice.’ Even if we don’t believe it is and even if the evidence doesn't show it. He still wants us to say that and if we don’t, we could get in trouble," says Hatami.
He points to a newly-created document for defense attorneys.
"I call it the snitch form and he created it. That form told the public defenders if the District Attorneys do anything outside the special directive, they’re supposed to fill it out and report it to the DA and we could get in trouble. That's a fact," says Hatami.
While George Gascón is an elected official, Deputy District Attorneys like Hatami is employed by the county.
We spoke with Supervisor Kathryn Barger who had this to say: " If he [Gascón] is asking them to not be honest to a judicial officer, that is a problem. And if he’s asking public defenders to tell on them, then I think this all needs to be documented and brought forward because I think that’s totally inappropriate. As a District Attorney, you have to remember who your client is, and your client is truly, the victims."
Hatami says he doesn’t want to get fired but he felt he had no choice but to speak up for himself and his fellow attorneys. He says, "If somebody got released and hurt somebody, especially a child and I sat back and didn’t say anything because I wanted to save myself and my job, I couldn’t do it."
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