Former chief of staff is suing LADA George Gascón for retaliation
- US News
- December 3, 2022
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Los Angeles County District. atty George Gascón’s former chief of staff has sued him for retaliation, claiming she was ousted from her post over an inexperienced replacement, the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by subordinates against the progressive prosecutor.
Victoria Adams, an assistant district attorney who has worked for the office for more than 35 years, filed the complaint Thursday, accusing Gascón of downgrading it after she questioned a number of his policies and decisions, including the handling of the controversial Hannah Tubbs case.
A holdover from Ex-Dist. atty Adams, of Jackie Lacey’s administration, described himself as the only person with “management experience” brought into Gascón’s inner circle after his election in December 2020, according to the lawsuit. But she quickly found herself at odds with many of the progressive prosecutor’s other close advisers, a group of former public defenders and allies from his former San Francisco post, whose promotions and appointments have been condemned by line prosecutors.
Adams claimed she was replaced as chief of staff by Joseph Iniguez, a much less experienced line prosecutor, after telling Gascón that a number of policies he issued on his first day in office were illegal, including bail procedures , juvenile law enforcement and the use of law enforcement enhancements. Only one of Gascón’s policies was ruled illegal by a judge: his refusal to seek augmentations of previous convictions for violent crimes against defendants.
Greg Smith, the civil attorney representing Adams, declined to comment beyond the contents of the file. A spokeswoman for Gascón did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The charge is the latest sign of widespread discord between Gascón’s confidants and most of the prosecutors who work under him. At least eight other prosecutors have sued Gascón for retaliation or defamation, claiming they were also fined for questioning his policies. The union, which represents most of the line prosecutors, almost unanimously backed a failed attempt to oust the district attorney, and a growing number of prosecutors seem unafraid to criticize Gascón in the media, an approach virtually unheard of under Lacey was.
Earlier this year, Gascón also transferred two of his most prominent critics, John McKinney and John Lewin, from the Major Crimes Unit shortly after they each won convictions against real estate heir Robert Durst and Eric Holder Jr., the man who shot killed beloved LA rapper Nipsey Hussle. While neither has sued Gascón, McKinney has announced his intention to run against his boss in the next election cycle, while Lewin has appeared regularly on Fox News to slam the liberal district attorney.
Adams also claimed she was fined for questioning the way Gascón handled the prosecution of Tubbs, a transgender woman accused of hitting a 10-year-old girl in a bathroom at a Palmdale community in 2014. sexually assaulting restaurants. Tubbs wasn’t arrested until years after the crime, but she was 17 at the time of the attack, prompting Gascón to invoke his policy of not trying juveniles as adults.
On the terms of a plea bargain, Tubbs was sentenced to two years in prison, prompting widespread outrage. Gascón has since apologized for his handling of the case after tapes and documents emerged detailing Tubbs’ horrific comments on phone calls in prison. He also formed a committee to allow prosecutors to try some juveniles as adults in the aftermath of the Tubbs case. Tubbs has since been charged with the 2019 Kern County murder.
According to the lawsuit, Adams clashed with Gascón and Chief Deputy Dist. atty Sharon Woo because the case’s original prosecutor, Shea Sanna, was prevented from appearing at an April 2022 hearing related to Tubbs’ incarceration after the plea deal was finalized. Adams believed that the prosecutor who would replace Sanna would not be knowledgeable enough about the case to make a proper account at the hearing. But she was turned down by Woo and Gascón.
Sanna himself is also now the subject of an internal investigation, stemming in part from comments he made about Tubbs.