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Gascón Resigns From California DA Association: It 'Fails To Support Us'

DA George Gascón. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Calling it a group “solely for those willing to toe the ‘tough on crime’ line,” L.A. District Attorney George Gascón resigned today from the California District Attorneys Association. Only one other of the state’s 58 DA’s has left the group – reform-minded San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar left last summer.

While Gascón is a Democrat and Salazar is a Republican, both agree that the CDAA, which wields powerful influence in Sacramento, has failed to embrace what they see as much-needed reforms in the criminal justice system.

In his letter announcing his resignation, Gascón cited the group’s all-white board of directors as an example of its failure to evolve.

“The absence of a single person of color on CDAA’s 17-member board is blinding,” Gascón wrote. “This is the leadership that sets the direction for an organization of elected prosecutors, all of whom disproportionately prosecute communities of color at a time when the nation is facing a reckoning over systemic racism.”

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Gascón also denounced the CDAA for supporting a lawsuit by the L.A. Association of Deputy District Attorneys that seeks to derail some of his reforms. A judge earlier this month granted the association’s request for a preliminary injunction to block Gascón from forcing his prosecutors to seek the dismissal of sentencing enhancements in thousands of cases.

He said the CDAA’s decision to “abandon prosecutorial discretion … a hallmark of the profession … is proof enough CDAA has lost its North Star.”

CDAA President Vern Pierson fired back at Gascón, saying in an email that his move "appears to be a publicity stunt to divert attention from his favoring criminals at the expense of victims and growing calls for his recall." Pierson, who's the El Dorado County DA, called Gascón's remarks about the group's all-white board "disingenuous," since Gascón ran against CDAA board member and former L.A. DA Jackie Lacey, who is Black.

Gascón is a founding member of the Prosecutors Alliance of California, which was created last year to promote reforms in the criminal justice system.

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