A judge Wednesday denied a request by the union representing Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys for a preliminary injunction preventing what the rank-and-file maintain is the hiring of unqualified candidates, including some from the Public Defender’s Office, by District Attorney George Gascón.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff said the Association of Deputy District Attorneys’ request was premature because there are ongoing internal proceedings before the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission regarding appeals of previous Gascón hires.
“The issues pending before the commission are identical to those before this court,” Beckloff wrote in his ruling. “There is no competent evidence before the court about what the commission might find after a hearing and what remedy it might issue. The court cannot determine on the evidence presented today that there is no adequate remedy available to (the union) — the court has nothing before it to suggest how the commission might remedy any violation of the (civil service rules) it might find.”
Beckloff set another hearing for Dec. 3 to discuss whether the union will seek a permanent injunction or a different legal remedy. He also encouraged the attorneys to meet and try to reduce the number of issues in the case.
Earlier this year, Gascón hired former longtime Deputy Public Defenders Alisa Blair, Tiffiny Blacknell and Shelan Joseph. Blacknell and Joseph were hired for grade 4 positions and Blair to a grade 3 slot, although none took and passed competitive exams as required by Civil Service rules and the County Charter, the union’s Los Angeles Superior Court petition states. Those appointments were appealed to the commission by ADDA members.
The ADDA states in its petition brought Oct. 12 that about 11 appeals were brought with the Civil Service Commission on behalf of its members who were on valid promotion eligibility lists and who were passed over for promotions for which they were qualified by Gascón’s “unlawful appointment of the unqualified Blair, Blacknell and Joseph to those positions.”
Elizabeth J. Gibbons, the union’s attorney, stated in her court papers that a day before Judge Mary H. Strobel denied her clients’ request for a temporary restraining order on Oct. 15, Gascón’s office promoted 53 internal candidates eligible for grade 3 positions. One of them, Deputy District Attorney Maria Ghobadi, said in her declaration that Gascón personally called her with the news.
Ghobadi says that while she was “extremely happy to be promoted,” the timing seemed “very suspicious.”
“I have been concerned since my Oct. 14 telephone conversation with Mr. Gascon that the promotion might be denied at a later time,” Ghobadi says.