The real epidemic spreading through California is recall fever.
At the end of January, Legal Insurrection reported that ultra-progressive Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s “reforms” were putting the region’s criminal justice system in “free fall.” For example, Gascón forced his prosecutors to read statements in court impugning the state’s “three strikes” law and ending specific penalties.
The situation was so bad that the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County argue in a lawsuit that deputy district attorneys cannot follow the directives without violating the state penal code. A judge subsequently blocked Gascón’s efforts to impose his reform directives.
Now victims-rights groups have caught recall fever and began organizing an effort against Gascón’s current role.
The recall campaign group held a “victims vigil” outside the Hall of Justice downtown and planned to gather the minimum of 20 signatures required to file a notice of intent to formally begin the recall process next month. About 100 people attended the event, organizers said.
The day he took office, Gascón announced an array of sweeping changes that included ending the use of sentencing enhancements, severely restricting when prosecutors can seek to hold defendants in lieu of bail, ending use of the death penalty in L.A. County and stopping the practice of trying juveniles as adults.
He vowed to make many of those reforms during a contentious election campaign against incumbent Jackie Lacey — one in which law enforcement and prosecutors’ unions across California spent millions in a failed bid to defeat him.
The recall effort will be easy to start but will require a lot of effort by LA County organizers to succeed.
Organizers planned to collect at least 20 signatures on Saturday, the amount needed to file an intent to recall, during a “victims vigil” outside the district attorney’s office in downtown L.A. They expected up to 100 people to attend, including many crime victims and Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, an outspoken critic of Gascón’s changes, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The recall effort needs valid signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters in the county, or just under 600,000 people, to qualify for the ballot, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office. Elected officials must be in office for at least 90 days before a recall effort can be officially launched. Gascón was sworn in on Dec. 7.
Imagine being such an awful district attorney that voters can’t even wait three months before trying to remove you from office. So while the signature level seems high for success, it appears the organizers are well motivated.
“A lot of victims have come forward and said they feel threatened by his policies, so this is a victim- and community-led effort,” said Siannah Collado, member of the Recall George Gascon campaign, who represents crime victims in court.
“A lot of people I’ve met have come forward and said, ‘Had I known this is what he was going to do I wouldn’t have voted for him,” Collado said. “It was a bait and switch.”
“I agree there needs to be some reform, but the pendulum has swung too far left. Now victims are last and criminals come first,” she continued.
Other members of the Gascón recall effort include victims’ rights advocates, former law enforcement officials, current and former prosecutors such as former LA Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. Former L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine is chairman of the effort and former county Supervisor Michael Antonovich is an honorary chairman.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.