Judge Puts DA Union’s Case Against Gascon on Hold Pending Appeal

May 25, 2021 Updated: May 25, 2021

LOS ANGELES—A judge who in February ruled mostly in favor of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County in a petition brought against District Attorney George Gascon over a series of new directives he handed down after taking office last December put the case on hold May 25 while the county’s top prosecutor appeals.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the union on Feb. 8, finding that Gascon cannot order his prosecutors to ignore laws that the union says protect the public, including three-strike allegations and sentencing enhancements.

The case was back before the judge to set a date for a trial on whether the injunction should be made permanent. But after discussing Gascon’s appeal with the lawyers, Chalfant accepted the agreement made by lawyers on both sides that the case should not move forward until the appeal is decided.

“The court hereby stays the case in its entirety,” Chalfant’s clerk wrote in a minute order.

The union contends that the directives—handed down the day that Gascon was sworn into office Dec. 7—violate state law.

But lawyer Robert E. Dugdale, on behalf of Gascon and the district attorney’s office, said the judge did not put a stop to Gascon’s policy prohibiting deputy district attorneys from filing most sentencing enhancements in new cases.

Gascon has drawn criticism from some crime victims and prosecutors over the directives and is facing a potential recall effort. Organizers announced last week that signature-gathering has been approved for the recall effort.

The city councils of at least 14 of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities have passed votes of no confidence against Gascon, including Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Diamond Bar, Santa Clarita and Lancaster.