LA's Gascon wants hearings closed to public due to 'threats of physical harm'

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon (D) is trying to hide from public view his anti-police political appointments by claiming their lives are in danger if they openly testify before a county panel investigating possible corruption, filings say.

While Gascon fights for his political life with a possible looming recall election, nine top recruits from the Public Defender’s Office want to close public civil service hearings into their qualifications because of imminent danger to their lives, Gascon’s lawyers claim.

“Since my transfer … I have been subjected to harassment, attempted intimidation, and threats of physical harm by members of the public, media figures, and employees of the County of Los Angeles,” DA spokeswoman Tiffiny Blacknell wrote in a petition filed with the county Civil Service Commission. “I have also been referenced repeatedly by name in pieces in right-wing media outlets online, in print, in podcasts, and on the radio.”

la's gascon wants hearings closed to public due to 'threats of physical harm'

George Gascon. (Bryan Chan/County of Los Angeles via AP)

Blacknell will be called as a witness in a case filed against Gascon by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys and its vice president, Eric Siddall. The plaintiffs claim Gascon illegally hired nine defense attorneys for plum office assignments without posting the positions or requiring them to have experience as a prosecutor.

LOS ANGELES BANS OBSERVERS FROM WATCHING GEORGE GASCON RECALL COUNT

Three of Gascon’s appointees have the power to retaliate against members of the DA’s office — and this has already happened, as 10 grievances and two unfair labor practice charges have been filed against the administration, the petition says.

Both sides argued the closure before a commissioner on Wednesday, with the prosecutors winning the battle on First Amendment grounds. This sets the stage for an airing of dirty laundry in subsequent hearings.

“Blacknell has posted on her public social media racist invectives that speak to a violent ideation for racial relations she seems to favor,” wrote Elizabeth Gibbons, attorney for the Siddall and the association. Blacknell referred to police as barbarians and the Los Angeles Police Department as an occupying army. She said racial strife should be resolved by violence, the filing says.

In one post, she referred to the United States as a “s*** hole country … where people are murdered by a militarized police force.” Blacknell uses race baiting social media posts to stir up strife rather than try to make peace, the filing says.

During the hearing this week, Gascon attorney Sabrina Narain accused Gibbons of referencing Gascon’s recall in her filings to create dissent.

“This is more about the disdain for the DA than it is about the merits of the case. Why is Ms. Gibbons talking about the recall? The recall doesn’t sway the commission,” Narain said. “That’s why they don’t want the hearing closed. … They want people to find [the employees] and incite violence on them and violence on their family.”

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However, Gascon and his appointees have failed to prove any violence or intimidation, the petition says. Hearing officer Samuel Reyes agreed, saying such hearings must legally remain open, with the exception of police officer personnel cases.

“I cannot conclude that any individual has been threatened for providing testimony at this hearing,” he said.

 

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Tags: Los Angeles, George Gascon, George Soros, California, Crime

Original Author: Tori Richards

Original Location: LA’s Gascon wants hearings closed to public due to ‘threats of physical harm’

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