DA George Gascon loses retaliation lawsuit (with 16 similar cases still to come)

LA County’s progressive DA George Gascon is having a bad week. Yesterday, after a two week trial, a jury awarded $1.5 million to a Deputy DA who had sued Gascon for retaliation after she opposed some of Gascon’s policies which she believed violated state law.


Shawn Randolph, the former head of the juvenile division of the district attorney’s office, claimed she was shuttled off to the parole division for pushing back against some of Gascón’s shifts to the handling of criminal cases involving minors, including his blanket ban on trying juveniles as adults.

Randolph’s legal team, led by civil attorneys Greg Smith and Beth Corriea, argued that she believed Gascón’s policies violated laws pertaining to victims’ rights and that limitations on the types of felonies prosecutors could file against teens would lead them to bring charges that did not accurately represent the alleged conduct of certain defendants.

Randolph (pictured above on the left) filed the lawsuit in 2021. A story about it at the time says she was particularly upset with how Gascon’s policy of never charging minors as adults impacted one particular case.

Randolph said in the complaint she repeatedly told superiors that criminal charges made under Gascón’s policy against violent juvenile offenders were not “truthful charges” and violate the ethical and statutory duties of a prosecutor.

Additionally, Randolph complained the directive violated California’s Marsy’s Law, otherwise known as the Victims’ Bill of Rights, by refusing to permit input from victims’ families into the decision not to try juvenile defendants as adults.

The lawsuit says Randolph was particularly concerned with a case involving a juvenile double-murderer who was one month shy of his 18th birthday when he killed his 16-year-old girlfriend and her sister and set their apartment on fire attempting to cover up the crimes.

“Under Gascón’s directive, the juvenile could not be tried as an adult and would be released from custody when he turns 25 years old,” says the lawsuit.


If you’re a regular reader then you may recognize the description of that case. Randolph was referring to the double murder of 16-year-old Sierra Brown and her sister Uniek Atkins. In November 2018, they were both shot to death by Brown’s boyfriend who was 17 years and 11 months old at the time. The boyfriend killed the sisters then set the apartment on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence. He was arrested and has been facing trial ever since. But Gascon’s policy prevented charging the boyfriend as an adult which meant, at worst, he’d be in juvenile prison for about 7 years for a double murder. Gascon’s office made a pro forma effort to change that last year but a judge turned them down, partly thanks to a 2022 law against transferring juveniles to adult court which Gascon supported.

After challenging Gascon, Randolph went from leading an office of 50 prosecutors to a dead end job in the parole division. She filed the lawsuit and last month Gascon testified in his own defense.

“What I’m telling you is that there were 14 people moved. It was a package deal,” Gascón said of his decision in January 2021 to remove Head Deputy Shawn Randolph and reassign her to lead the DA’s parole division.

Gascón testified that two other head deputies, Vicky Adams and Maria Ramirez, had first suggested moving Randolph amid a series of personnel changes made in the first weeks and months of his administration, and told jurors he approved the entire group of transfers together, not just Randolph’s.


Clearly the jury didn’t believe him. But the really bad news for Gascon because there are 16 more retaliation cases against him which have yet to go to trial.

The verdict does not bode well for Gascón, who testified at the two-week trial and faces 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.

Ramirez is the first of what is expected to be a raft of challengers from inside the office who will attempt to unseat Gascón if he seeks reelection next year.

Eric Siddall — vice president of the union representing rank-and-file prosecutors, which has frequently sparred with Gascón — said there were as many as 16 other civil suits pending against the district attorney.

Hopefully this is just the start of a significant trend. Maybe after Gascon loses a dozen or more of these cases to the tune of millions of dollars some of his progressive fans will have second thoughts about his leadership.

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