The association representing more than 800 deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County announced Friday it will hold a membership vote on whether to endorse the latest effort to recall District Attorney George Gascón.
The Association of Deputy District Attorneys “believes that this important question must be answered in a fair, transparent and democratic manner,” the group said in a statement. “In that spirit, we have given the district attorney the opportunity to speak directly to the membership and answer their questions.”
In a letter sent Friday to Gascón, the association’s president, Michele Hanisee, wrote that many of the group’s members have asked the association to take a position on an “unprecedented and pressing public question: whether to recall and replace you as Los Angeles County’s District Attorney.”
“This was not the first time members made this plea,” Hanisee wrote. “Last year, a similar request was made. We took no action … It would be inappropriate for our seven-person Board of Directors (which includes six registered Democrats and one decline-to-state voter) to speak for so many on such an important nonpartisan question. We recognize that our members are uniquely qualified to judge your performance and competency as district attorney.”
The letter invites Gascón to attend a virtual town hall meeting between Feb. 16 and Feb. 19 to give him the opportunity to speak on his own behalf. A new effort was launched last December to oust Gascón from office within months of a similar recall campaign falling short, with organizers required to collect 566,857 signatures from registered voters in Los Angeles County by July 6.
The city councils of more than 30 cities in the county have issued “no confidence” votes involving Gascón. Last September, organizers of the prior recall attempt said the effort was hampered by COVID-19 pandemic health mandates, along with a “premature start” and vowed to re-launch their bid to recall the county’s top prosecutor, who was sworn into office in December 2020.
Despite the failure of the original effort, organizers said then that they remained committed to recalling Gascón, who has come under fire from critics for a progressive agenda that has included directives against seeking the death penalty and dropping sentence-enhancing allegations in some criminal cases.
Gascón has repeatedly defended his policies, saying his stances were well-known during his campaign and his election signified public support of his agenda. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys filed a lawsuit in December 2020 challenging Gascón’s directives to eliminate three-strikes allegations and some sentencing enhancements, alleging that the moves are “unlawful.”
A judge ruled mostly in favor of the association last February, but subsequently put the case on hold while Gascón appeals. A trial date is scheduled to be set for the case in April.