LA County DA Gascon backs down on some enhancements after telling murder victim's family to 'keep their mouth shut''

When he took office this month, DA George Gascon immediately announced he would do away with any enhancements for charges, such as those for people who commit multiple murders or hate crimes. That didn’t sit well with victim’s families or with some of Gascon’s own Deputy DAs. Yesterday Deputy DA Paul Moll became the second deputy to publicly criticize his own boss:

He has been a Los Angeles County prosecutor for the last 15 years but in the last two weeks under new rules by District Attorney George Gascón, Moll says it feels more like he’s working for the defense.

He says, “It’s like it’s been a hostile takeover of the DA’s office by the defense bar, the way they work together to prevent us from keeping people safe. It’s shocking!”…

Moll adds, “Public safety seems to have been thrown out the window. I’m supposed to argue to let serious, violent, repeat offenders that, you know, are going to go out and victimize people again, to just let them go.”

For not doing just that, Moll says a defense attorney reported him to his superiors. He’s convinced Gascón’s team is working closely with defense attorneys.

Gascon is also hearing from a number of family members of murder victims who are not happy that enhancement charges against their son’s killers are suddenly being dropped wholesale. Last week the mother of a man who was thrown off a cliff in Azusa by five suspects said she saw her son’s killers “smirk” when the enhancements were dropped:

“It’s sick,” Andrade said. “This is all sick.”

“I felt let down by this justice system,” she added…

“They brutally murdered my son,” said the grieving mother.

Gascon also came face to face with another family of a murder victim last week. It happened in Pomona where Gascon was confronted by the family of Joshua Rodriguez who was murdered in 2015. Gascon snapped at the family, “It’s unfortunate that some people do not have enough education to keep their mouth shut so we can talk.” His response was caught on video:

Gascon later issued a statement apologizing for his comments: “I did not understand what they were yelling about until later, let alone that they were victims. Regardless, it’s not how I should have reacted. Clearly this family is in pain, and I will be contacted them to speak directly and hear them out.”

All of this must be getting to Gascon, at least a little. On Friday he reversed course and decided that enhancements for some circumstances would continue to be used in LA County:

In a memo, Gascon said that effective immediately he would now allow deputy DAs to seek sentencing enhancements for hate crimes, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, sex trafficking and certain financial crimes.

I guess that’s something but these changes don’t address the parts of Gascon’s order that Deputy DA Moll is most worried about:

The new directives Moll is mostly concerned with include resentencing old cases, no DA representation at parole hearings and a charging directive that won’t allow prosecutors to introduce prior felonies or allegations.

So a lot of the changes Gascon has put in place won’t get the same attention but they are going to result in more lenient sentences and more convicted felons back on the streets more quickly.