Attorneys for a veteran prosecutor suing Los Angeles County, alleging she has been denied important positions in retaliation for complaining about directives set forth after the 2020 election of District Attorney George Gascon, can depose Gascon himself, a judge has ruled.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry A. Green issued his ruling Thursday in Deputy District Attorney Shawn Randolph’s case. He had ruled Oct. 25 that Randolph’s lawyers also could depose Gascon’s chief of staff, Joseph Iniguez, whose session took place Dec. 9. Green delayed ruling on the Gascon deposition until this week.
Randolph’s retaliation lawsuit, filed in October 2021, states that at the time of Gascon’s election, the plaintiff was the head prosecutor in charge of the District Attorney’s Office’s Juvenile Division, in which she supervised about 50 lawyers and 50 civilian workers.
But in February 2021, Randolph was transferred to the parole division, a “dead-end position for a head deputy,” and denied transfers to head the District Attorney’s branch offices in Torrance and Long Beach Superior Courts even though she was the most qualified applicant for each position, the suit states.
According to Randolph’s suit, upon being sworn into office on Dec. 7, 2020, Gascon released numerous directives, including a policy that, among other things, mandated that Randolph use alternative theories of prosecution that minimized a juvenile’s criminal conduct, no matter how violent the offenses.
“In essence, plaintiff was directed not to file strike offenses against juveniles and this directive creates a false and misleading description to the court of the crimes that were actually committed,” the suit states.
The directive also mandated that Randolph could not file any enhancements for egregious violent conduct, according to the suit.
Randolph repeatedly disclosed to her superiors that juvenile petitions made under Gascon’s policy were not truthful and that filing such petitions before a court violates the ethical and statutory duties of a prosecutor, the suit states.
Randolph additionally complained that under Gascon’s directive, violent juvenile murderers could not be tried as adults and that Gascon violated the law by refusing to permit the victims’ family any input into the decision not to try them as adults, the suit states.
County lawyers opposed the depositions of Gascon and Iniguez, saying both men are top-level executives and agency heads known as “apex” witnesses who are not subject to depositions absent compelling reasons. The lawyers further argued that Randolph could get the same information from other people.
The county attorneys further argued in their court papers that Randolph does not allege she complained to Gascon, nor does she claim he was directly involved in her retaliation allegations.
The county attorneys made the same basic argument regarding Iniguez’s proposed deposition, maintaining that because Randolph alleges she reported her complaints to her immediate supervisors, the information she sought could have been obtained from them as well as through written discovery instead of the “duplicative and harassing” questioning of Gascon and Iniguez.