More Than A Month’s Worth: That’s the Size of LA DA Gascon’s Case Backlog

‘Crime is up and the current filings are not reflecting the reality’

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Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón has been criticized – rightly – for any number of justice system reasons: soft on crime, does not add gun enhancements to charges, does not support victim’s families, does not oppose the parole of violent offenders, does use no cash bail which often results in a nearly instantaneous re-offense by the criminal, etc.

But it also appears he’s just really bad at even the most basic part of the job – filing criminal cases.

The office has a case backlog slightly larger than a whole month’s worth of offenses.  The office is sent about 11,000 cases a month – it’s reportedly behind by about 13,000.

In his “mid-term report,” Gascon said the office’s felony filing rate is in fact about the same as previous district attorneys.

But that means the backlog could also represent an increase in crime.  

“If felony filings are the same as before, and there is a huge batch of unfiled cases, that means crime is up and the current filings are not reflecting the reality,” said Marc Debbaudt, retired veteran prosecutor and former president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

The issue of staff incompetence should cut across the political spectrum, said longtime deputy district attorney Eric Siddall.  

“He’s a disaster, no matter the politics,” said Siddall.  “This had not happened with previous district attorneys – he just doesn’t know how to administer.”

DA’s office spokesperson Venusse Navid defended the operations, saying a new computerized and centralized filing system has helped and that office leadership went through every office to conduct a physical hand count, we “looked on shelves, on desks, in drawers, in boxes” to find every case.

“Up until 2021, the office mainly operated with hard-copy, paper file submissions,” Navid said.  “Two years ago, we dramatically expanded the use of the award-winning electronic charge evaluation system known as ‘eCER.’While the workload is high, we prioritize custody cases. We are proud to say that no case submitted for custody filing has been left unreviewed and unfiled by our office since December 2020.”

Siddall said Navid crowing about “custody filing” is irrelevant as those are cases involving people already in jail and – per the constitution –  must be filed within 48 hours.

But the system change – along with the office being unable to replace the hundreds of experienced deputy district attorneys who could not abide Gascon’s ludicrous, and often illegal, prosecution-related orders and directives have exacerbated the problem.

Debbaudt said he understand that the new system has ballooned the time it takes a deputy district attorney to actually file a case. “You used to be able to do 40 or 50 a day,” Debbaudt said.  “Now’s it about five.”

The new centralized system does have one benefit for Gascon – it allows him to monitor and control what gets filed, Debbaudt added.

The mid term report also noted that charges for misdemeanor offenses have dropped about 40 percent while charges for misdemeanor “addiction related offenses” have essentially dropped to zero per office policy, a policy many say has directly led to the degradation of the city.

Those offenses not charged anymore include drug possession, drug use, public intoxication, and possession of paraphernalia, etc.

The report states: 

“Do no harm” is also an overriding principle in our office, and we have decided to shift resources away from misdemeanors where prosecution serves no public safety benefit. We have, therefore, dramatically decreased our filing rate for cases associated with addiction, while focusing on those misdemeanors where violence, and especially domestic violence, occurs.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

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