NEW: LA County Jury Finds That George Gascon Retaliated Against Deputy DA, Awards $1.5 Million in Damages
A Los Angeles County jury found that George Gascon had engaged in retaliatory conduct against a Deputy District Attorney who pushed back against his policies and awarded the plaintiff, Shawn Randolph, $1.5 million in a verdict announced late Monday afternoon.
Randolph was the lead prosecutor in the office’s juvenile division and was “reassigned” to the parole division after she raised objections to Gascon’s blanket policy to not charge a juvenile as an adult, no exceptions, which he announced immediately upon taking the oath of office in December 2020. As RedState reported at the time:
In a speech following his swearing-in, Gascon spelled out exactly what is changing and when – his office won’t seek the death penalty ever, no more juveniles being charged as adults, no more use of gang or gun enhancements to put violent criminals away for a longer time, no more bail, resentencing of up to 20,000 convicted offenders (with hundreds possibly being released as soon as tomorrow), and more. Despite his years as an LAPD officer, he believes that these measures will “break the multigenerational cycles of violence, trauma, and arrest“:
Randolph’s attorneys say Randolph told supervisors that Gascon’s directives “violated laws pertaining to victims’ rights and would lead prosecutors to file inaccurate charges in court due to limitations he placed on the types of felonies that could be charged against juveniles.”
Local news didn’t report this part of Gascon’s time on the witness stand during the trial last week, but Deputy DA Jonathan Hatami, who has been a vocal critic of Gascon’s policies and was present during Gascon’s testimony, tweeted:
At a downtown LA Superior Court on Wednesday – George Gascón was asked on the stand about him calling his employees who don’t agree with him “internal terrorists.”
George said, under oath, “I probably used that term and regret it now.”
— jonathanhatami (@jonathanhatami) February 24, 2023
The Los Angeles Times reports that several LA County prosecutors were in the courtroom as the verdict was read, and that one said, “Finally,” when it was announced.
The verdict does not bode well for Gascón, who testified at the two-week trial and faces at least a dozen similar lawsuits from prosecutors who say they were reassigned or passed up for promotions after speaking out against his progressive policies. A number of people suing Gascón, including Victoria Adams, his former chief of staff, and Deputy Dist. Atty. Maria Ramirez, testified against him at Randolph’s trial.
The county already settled a lawsuit filed against Gascon by former Deputy DA Richard Doyle, who’d been retaliated against when he refused to drop charges against BLM protesters who were charged with trainwrecking that was caught on video. That suit was settled for a seven-figure sum, according to the LA Times.
Gascon was represented at trial by the same law firm involved in investigating Deputy DA Shea Sanna for allegations of misconduct, transphobia, and misgendering that Sanna believes are retaliation for Sanna’s public criticism of Gascon’s directive prohibiting charging juveniles as adults. Sanna was the prosecutor assigned to the case of James/Hannah Tubbs, the man who was 17 when he violently sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Denny’s restaurant in Palmdale, then claimed to be transgender when he was arrested at age 25 in 2021.
Gascon’s spokeswoman, Tiffiny Blacknell, reiterated her boss’s position that they were simply moving around personnel to improve service to the community.
“We are disappointed by the jury’s verdict and stand by our decision to reassign this and other attorneys to new positions within the office,” Tiffiny Blacknell, chief spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said in a statement. “As any manager will tell you, moving around personnel in order to improve the level of representation this community receives is absolutely critical to a functioning office.”
Blacknell was working as a public defender when Gascon was hired, but left that job to join Gascon as one of his top assistants after it was learned that she was behind efforts to intimidate Deputy DA’s and judges who didn’t believe Gascon’s directives were legal and attempted to not follow them.
Earlier this week we reported about intimidation and retaliation efforts aimed at Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles County who stick to actually representing the public and refuse to follow LA District Attorney George Gascon’s new Special Directives. One tool being used is a Google form that was set up to gather all of the particulars of any case in which a DDA didn’t adhere to said Special Directives.
Now we know that the person responsible for at least disseminating that form (and possibly for creating it) is Tiffiny Townend Blacknell, a Deputy Public Defender who is a member of Gascon’s Public Safety Committee and has been outspoken about holding Deputy DA’s and judges who fail to bow down to Gascon’s demands accountable for their actions.
This isn’t the first time Gascon has been accused of retaliation against a female subordinate. Prior to becoming a prosecutor (a term I hesitate to use, because I’m not sure Gascon has ever first chaired a felony case), he was an LAPD officer for decades. He got his feathers ruffled when he was passed over for the chief job, then left for Arizona. But while he was with LAPD numerous sexual harassment and retaliation claims were raised against him, both formally and informally. As we covered in 2020,
“During a period of time, while I was the President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, he made several sexual advances toward me, and continually attempted to manipulate situations to attempt to start a sexual relationship. Finally, after several attempts and several ‘no’s’, I began to avoid any meeting with him. I did not file a sexual harassment complaint at the time, although several people in the Department were aware of his continual sexual advances toward me. George Gascón did not only harass me; he tried to ruin my reputation by falsely telling others he had slept with me. I believe he did that as a revenge attempt to trash my reputation in the Department because I refused his sexual advances.”
Another woman, a former LAPD detective, told Ali a similar story. Ali notes that the women have no connection to each other but described a “boys club” atmosphere that “allowed the alleged misconduct to thrive.” Here’s her story:
The former LAPD detective said that Gascón told her, “You and me can have great sex.”
“I thought, ‘Are you f**king kidding me?’” the former detective told me in an interview.
She said she told Gascón that she had a boyfriend (she didn’t) as a way to change the subject. “I didn’t want to burn any bridges,” she said. The former detective told me that Gascón was known to have friends who worked in position control—the department in the LAPD that would determine if she could be reassigned to another division within the police department, which she wanted to do.
The former detective said that while Gascón had always been friendly to her in the past, his demeanor changed after she made it clear she wasn’t interested in sleeping with him.
“It was clear he was pissed off at me,” she said.
As noted above, more than a dozen additional employment cases have been filed thusfar against Gascon. It might be time for the Board of Supervisors to consider the massive liability Gascon is to the taxpayers, not to mention the public in general, and be as aggressive against him as they have been against former Sheriff Alex Villanueva.