Deputy DA filing defamation lawsuit against DA George Gascon

Back in December, Deputy DA Jon Hatami was one of the first to publicly criticize his new boss, DA George Gascon. Now Hatami is filing a lawsuit against Gascon for defamation and racial discrimination:

Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, a Santa Clarita resident, alleged both Gascón and his spokesman, Max Szabo, published defamatory language about Hatami and discriminated against him for his Iranian heritage…

“‘Some people will be unhappy and either become internal terrorists or they’ll leave,’” Gascón said in a podcast interview recorded in February 2020, which was cited in the complaint. Hatami alleged Gascón’s wording of that statement was directed at established deputy district attorneys and Hatami, who himself is “part Iranian and whose father is Muslim.”

Additionally, the suit alleges that Szabo, an employee who has identified himself to the media as a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, offered defamatory remarks about Hatami in a Fox 11 News interview. Szabo is credited with saying Hatami had “delusional theories” and questioned Hatami’s “fitness to practice law” in response to Hatami’s criticism of Gascón’s new policies, according to the complaint.

Hatami’s work mostly involves putting violent child abusers in prison. He was the prosecutor in the horrific Gabriel Fernandez case which involved a mother and her boyfriend who tortured and beat the 8-year-old until he was brain dead. The boyfriend in that case got the death penalty which, according to the lawsuit, prompted some inappropriate comments from Gascon:

On Nov. 18, Gascon said in an interview on Spectrum News 1 that the only reasons Hatami sought the death penalty in the Gabriel Fernandez case was because Hatami’s ego had been hurt by Aguirre, that Aguirre had rubbed Hatami the wrong way, that Aguirre was not the “heavy” in the case, and that Aguirre had refused Hatami’s plea deal, according to the claim.

This is apparently what led up to Hatami’s criticsm of Gascon after the new DA announced that all sentencing enhancements were being dropped. On top of that, Hatami didn’t appreciate having his boss send people to monitor deputy DAs in court to make sure they were complying with his new approach.

“I don’t want to lose my job, but unless they run me out of here or they take away all my cases, I’m not going anywhere. And I’m going to fight for all the kids,” Hatami said at the time.

Gascon did backtrack on the issue of sentencing enhancements in cases involving child abuse, elder abuse and hate crimes. He also lost in court on the issue of the three strikes law and removing sentencing enhancements for prior cases. So some of his excesses are being curbed but only after a barrage of criticism and negative press.