Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday's Free For All: Cooley Vindicated, Huntsman on the Move, Rumor Mill Musings

Retired District Attorney Steve Cooley Vindicated by Superior Court

The LA Times reported Wednesday on a story previously covered by the Dragnet and the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lavin has thrown out a decision of the Los Angeles County Employee Relations Commission (ERCOM) finding District Attorney Steve Cooley and the District Attorney's Office had retaliated against disgraced, fired, former Deputy DA Steve Ipsen and other members of his kangaroo court-like grip on the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA).

Judge Lavin found that ERCOM's then Executive Director, Paul Causey had "numerous ex parte communications" with Ipsen and other ADDA members, that Causey was "heavily involved in the ERCOM decision making process," and that there was "substantial evidence in the record of actual bias by ERCOM." For those reasons, Judge Lavin found that DA Steve Cooley and the DA's Office "did not receive a fair hearing before ERCOM" and therefore ERCOM's July 25, 2011 decision was thrown out.

Although Judge Lavin ordered ERCOM to hold a new hearing "to be conducted by a neutral and unbiased hearing officer," it is unclear whether Ipsen or the ADDA will want to re-litigate the matter in the light of not only the collapse of Ipsen's Federal Lawsuit (which argued essentially the same conspiracy theory), but also in the light of Ipsen's 2012 termination from the DA's Office, the reasons for which are now coming to light (see below).

Deputy DA Max Huntsman to be Appointed Watchdog over Sheriff's Dept.

The LA Times reported Tuesday that Deputy DA Max Huntsman, the longtime corruption tackling Assistant Head Deputy of the Public Integrity Division, will be the head of a new agency that will scrutinize the LA County Sheriff's Department.

Huntman's appointment as Inspector General is expected to be confirmed by the Board of Supervisors on December 3, 2013.

Rumor Mill Musings 

Ipsen fired for misconduct

Pursuant to a Public Records Act request made to ERCOM, the Dragnet has obtained voluminous records pertaining to the 2012 dismissal of disgraced former Deputy DA Steve Ipsen. Documents filed by Ipsen and the District Attorney's Office regarding Ipsen's claim that his dismissal was a result of 'unfair employee relations practice' are public record, and their contents cast further doubt as to the propriety of Ipsen being given the 'President's Award' at the recent ADDA Awards Dinner.

Significantly, documents discovered pursuant to the Dragnet's PRA reveal that Ipsen apparently used, or rather, abused his position as Deputy DA to advance his campaign to become District Attorney. Ipsen apparently misled a Superior Court Judge into believing Ipsen's 'Reform First' campaign slogan was actually the policy of the District Attorney's Office. In doing so Ipsen caused numerous cases to be 'settled' by using what appear to be illegal sentences in violation of Penal Code Sections 667(c)(2) and 1170.12(a)(2). Those section prohibit the granting of probation to a defendant who admits a prior strike conviction, and makes the suspension of a doubled prison term unlawful and most likely unenforceable.

A full report is to follow.

And then there were nine?

The Dragnet's recent reportage of the number of Deputy DAs seeking election to the Los Angeles Superior Court in the June 2014 primary, indicated that eight Deputy DA's have thrown their hats in the ring. However, eight chasing two open seats may soon become nine, if rumors are correct.

More to follow.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

And then there were eight ...

The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that DDA Ann H. Park has thrown her hat in the ring and will run for Judge of the Superior Court in the June 2014 primary.

The announcement of Park's candidacy brings the total number of DDAs seeking judicial office to eight. Currently two open seats are known to be on the June ballot and it is possible that further seats might open up. However, it is unlikely that there could be as many as eight open seats, making it likely that DDA candidates will have to run against each other.

According to the Met News, a ninth candidate is also rumored to be in the running; Douglas Weitzman, a real estate broker and civil lawyer (previously rated by the LA County Bar Association as "Not Qualified") announced on a legal marketing website that he intends to announce another candidacy in February.

Our previous post detailed the seven other candidates.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

7 Deputy District Attorneys run for Judge of the Superior Court

Seven Deputy District Attorneys have announced their intention to run for seats in the Los Angeles Superior Court in the June 3, 2014 primary election.

While all would doubtless prefer not to run against a fellow DDA, that prospect seems unlikely as, so far, there are only two open seats currently available; Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Joseph DiLoreto and Jessica Perrin Silvers have announced that they will not seek reelection.

Although it is likely that other seats will open up, candidates will have to make tough choices as to which seats they will seek and who their opponents will be.

Here are the seven candidates listed alphabetically, with links to their websites.

Andrew Cooper


Christopher Frisco

Website: tba
Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong


Dayan Mathai


Alison Matsumoto Estrada


Stacy Okun-Wiese


Teresa Pineda Magno


We wish them all the best of luck.

UPDATED: DDA Ann H. Park has now thrown her hat in the ring, bringing the total number of DDAs running for Superior Court to eight.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ipsen no-show at ADDA Awards Dinner

Disgraced former ADDA President Steve Ipsen was a 'no-show' at the Thursday night's ADDA Awards Dinner.

Despite an announcement that Ipsen was unable to attend due to "family illness," speculation was rife as to the real reason why Ipsen, who was fired from the DA's Office last year, failed to appear.

Many believe that Ipsen was 'dis-invited' when a significant number of honorees made it clear that they would not attend if Ipsen was present. Others opined that the prospect of being greeted by jeers or even a pelting with rotten tomatoes, may have convinced the self-styled 'Reform First' DA candidate, to stay far away.

Regardless of the real reason, the fact that Ipsen was prevented from destroying the Awards Dinner is another 'feather in the cap' for ADDA President Donna McClay, and represents the clearest example yet of the kind of leadership she intends to bring to the ADDA; one where the ADDA can shake off it's tarnished image caused by Ipsen and his "crazies," who used the ADDA to further their personal agendas, gripes and grievances to the detriment of the rank and file.

McClay earned another feather as, significantly, District Attorney Jackie Lacey not only attended the event, but remained throughout the proceedings. McClay's leadership marks the first time in recent history that the President of the ADDA is not embroiled in personal litigation with the District Attorney's Office. Former ADDA Presidents Ipsen and his appointed successor, Hyatt Seligman, both sued the DA's Office in Federal Court claiming a conspiracy theory laundry list litany of reasons why they were transferred and/or denied promotion. But after two weeks of trial, it took the jury less than two hours to decide that they had no case.

Perhaps now that McClay has stamped her mark on how she intends to lead the ADDA, she will be able to attract new members to run for board positions. Elections are rumored to be in the process of being announced, and it can only serve the interests of Deputy DAs that good people are elected to help McClay in repairing the damage caused by Ipsen.

If anyone deserved the President's Award on Thursday night, it was Donna McClay.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ADDA Awards Dinner to be held under cloud of Steve Ipsen Award

As reported last week, disgraced former ADDA President Steve Ipsen, who was fired last year by the District Attorney's Office, is indeed to receive the 'President's Award' at the November 14, 2013 ADDA Awards Dinner.

The shocking news that Ipsen was to attend the event, let alone receive an award, attracted a flood of comments far overshadowing Friday's main feature detailing Ipsen's improper ex parte communications with the Employment Relations Commission (ERCOM).

Although many readers expressed their dismay at Ipsen's continued involvement with the ADDA (he remains a Board Member until he is removed at the next election), the notion that he would be the recipient of an award at a ceremony honoring Deputy DAs and a DA Investigator for their outstanding and selfless work in furtherance of the mission of the DA's Office, casts a pall over the event.

Disgraced, fired, Steve Ipsen is to receive the President's Award
at the ADDA Awards Dinner to the dismay and disgust of most in the DA's Office.

The inclusion of Ipsen appears to be the result of a last minute move by Ipsen "crazies" who believe that Ipsen should be honored for his efforts in unionizing the ADDA. The old adage "There are none so blind as those who cannot see" comes to mind, for there is no doubt whatsoever that Ipsen's efforts were more motivated to advance his own "Reform First" political agenda, than to benefit the rank and file members of the DA's Office.

Equally few would deny that Ipsen's self-promoting tactics did untold harm to the ADDA and deterred the active involvement of many who would have become involved, but for the taint of association with Ipsen and his record of prosecutorial misconduct and attempts to prevent one of his "closest friends" (a three-time convicted sex offender) from being required to comply with Penal Code Section 290.

By the same token many, if not all of those receiving awards are likely to be shocked to learn that they will be sharing the podium with the antithesis of what a prosecutor should be. Whether the late news of Ipsen's award will prompt a slew of cancellations is unknown, but many 'on the fence' will likely give the event a miss until the stench the Ipsen era is finally expunged from the ADDA.   

Evidence in support of there being a last minute move by the Ipsen "crazies" to blindside honorable DDAs with the specter of Ipsen appears to be borne out by the timeline of announcements for the Awards Dinner. The original annoucement, on September 27, 2013, made no mention of any President's Award, let alone one to Ipsen.

The original announcement of the Awards Dinner made no mention
of a "President's Award' let alone one to be given to Ipsen.
 However, on November 8, 2013, the ADDA sent out an email announcing the extension of the deadline to purchase tickets to November 12, 2013, two days before the event. It was only when those receiving the email drilled down to the image contained in the email, did it become clear there was to be a 'President's Award' and that Ipsen was one of three recipients.

Only one week before the Awards Dinner could invitees discern that
Steve Ipsen was to receive the 'President's Award.'
For newly installed ADDA President Donna McClay, the inclusion of Ipsen must come as something of a blow. McClay has worked tirelessly to rid the ADDA of the taint of Ipsen's divisive leadership. McClay successfully organized the DA Candidates Forum last year, and oversaw useful and productive negotiations with DA Jackie Lacey's administration to secure the first pay increase for Deputy DA's in six years.

The Awards Dinner was as much to be McClay's moment, as it was to be an an event honoring outstanding hard working District Attorney professionals. However, such is the narcissistic nature of Ipsen, that he has not got the grace to bow out and let McClay have her moment.

If indeed Ipsen does appear to collect his award, perhaps the awkward silence of the majority of the audience will remind him that he is not wanted.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Another Ipsen caper goes down the crapper

ERCOM ruling in favor of ADDA thrown out - tainted by bias and improper ex parte communications.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin has "tossed out" a controversial ruling by the Employee Relations Commission (ERCOM) Hearing Officer Thomas Kerrigan which fawningly supported then ADDA President Steve Ipsen's assertions that ADDA officers had been the subject of retaliation.

In vacating the July 25, 2011 ruling, Judge Lavin found that ERCOM's Executive Director, Paul Causey, had engaged in improper ex parte communications with Ipsen and other ADDA officers. Furthermore, Judge Lavin found that Causey had not only selected Kerrigan as Hearing Officer, but had also relayed Ipsen's communications to Kerrigan, thereby influencing Kerrigan's ruling in favor of Ipsen and the ADDA.

Kerrigan and Causey, Judge Lavin noted, were former law partners and that there was "substantial evidence in the record that Causey and Kerrigan were biased against the District Attorney's Office." Judge Lavin also found that during the pendency of the ERCOM hearings, Ipsen had sought to develop a "personal relationship" with Causey, citing emails showing that Ipsen had invited Causey to a "complimentary lunch" on "National Remembrance Day" and that Ipsen took Causey to show him an "exotic Italian sports car" and allowed him to drive it.

Despite Judge Lavin's findings, the ADDA continues to display a portion of Kerrigan's invalid ruling on their website, captioned "ERCOM Decision re Retaliation by DA."

ADDA Website hails Kerrigan's corrupt ruling as "Decision re Retaliation by DA"

Perhaps the ADDA will now also provide a link to the full text of Judge Lavin's findings, captioned "Misconduct by [former] ADDA President Steve Ipsen invalidates ruling in favor of ADDA." In the event that the ADDA do not have a copy of Judge Lavin's Writ of Prohibition tossing out the bogus "decision," we provide it in full below.

Evidence of the bias and improper ex parte communications came to light when the District Attorney's Office learned of numerous email messages between Ipsen, other ADDA officers and ERCOM. Although ERCOM had steadfastly refused to disclose the improper emails, lawyers for the District Attorney's Office ultimately prevailed and obtained the 'smoking guns' showing Ipsen's improper conduct.

Readers familiar with Ipsen will recall that this is far from the only time that Ipsen has engaged in misconduct. In 2003, the LA Times reported that "A Los Angeles judge has found that Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Ipsen intentionally argued inconsistent theories of the same murder in two death penalty trials in order to present the most damaging case against each defendant."

In overturning the death penalty conviction obtained by Ipsen, the Metropolitan New- Enterprise reported that the California Supreme Court found that Ipsen had "engaged in willful misconduct by arguing different theories of each defendant’s role in order to maximize the possibility of winning two death sentences."

If a Supreme Court finding of "willful misconduct" isn't a large enough red flag as to Ipsen's unfitness for holding the Office of District Attorney,  let alone a leadership position in the union purporting to represent 1,000+ Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys, there is also the very troubling admission by Ipsen that a three-time convicted sex offender was one of his closest friends, and that Ipsen had testified as a character witness for the defense in the trial of the sex offender. 

All the more surprising then, that notwithstanding all his 'baggage' and the fact that Ipsen has been fired from the DA's Office, he nevertheless continues to hold the position of "Director" on the board of the ADDA.

Steve Ipsen continues to serve as a "Director" on the ADDA Board

Many in the DA's Office cringe at the mention of Ipsen recalling his cynical manipulation of the ADDA to serve as the springboard for a political career. Ipsen's political aspirations took a Trutanich-like nose dive when he was apparently forced to withdraw his candidacy from the 2012 race to become Distict Attorney. That withdrawal is understood to have been influenced by attempts to obtain his personnel records. 

Despite multiple findings of misconduct it is understood that the ADDA has plans to "honor" Ipsen at an event in the near future. Unsurprisingly, many Deputy District Attorneys seem to have other plans that evening. It is an open secret that Ipsen continues to be a divisive figure at the ADDA, and that many on the Board would like to see him removed. That, apparently, will only happen if a few good people run for positions on the ADDA Board and succeed in winning enough votes to oust him. If you don't like the idea of someone like Ipsen having a presence on the ADDA Board, then get involved. Either run for a Board position, or help to support someone who is going to run. It's called democracy, and it's time we had some at the ADDA.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai kicks off campaign for Judge of the Superior Court

Tuesday, October 29, 2013, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai launched his campaign to win an open seat for Superior Court Judge at a well attended event in downtown Los Angeles at the Bonaventure Hotel.

Flanked by his former boss, Retired Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley,
Deputy DA Dayan Mathai launched his campaign to be Judge of the Superior Court
Retired District Attorney Steve Cooley was guest of honor at the event, and introduced the man he described as "most qualified" to join the ranks of many other former Deputy District Attorneys who have successfully made the transition from the DA's Office to the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Mathai, in his 15th year at the DA's Office, is currently assigned to the Organized Crime Division after a successful stint in the Hardcore Gang Division. With a trial record of more than 30 murder cases, Mathai feels he is ready to make the step to the bench. He is not alone is holding that belief. Also joining Mathai at his kickoff event were District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Kanabe, both of whom have endorsed his candidacy.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise, Mathai said "I want to be a judge because I’ve had the opportunity to get some great trial experience," he said. Over his years as a prosecutor, he added, he "got to see how important the role of a judge is in seeing that everybody gets a fair trial."

He is also motivated, he said, by the experience of his parents, immigrants from India, who "didn’t have the rights and privileges" that are sometimes taken for granted in this country.

At present it is unknown how many open seats will be up for grabs in the June 2014 primary. Thus far three other prosecutors have announced their intention to be on the ballot; Alison Matsumoto Estrada, Stacy Okun-Wiese, and Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong. Also rumored to be in the running is four-time loser Douglas Weitzman, a real estate broker and civil lawyer, who was previously rated by the LA County Bar Association as "Not Qualified."   

Mathai's website is and you can 'like' him on FaceBook at

Wendy Greuel's new job - first step to rehabilitate reputation ahead of political run?

Wendy Greuel reinvents herself - Shallman in the background?

The LA Daily News reports that former Los Angeles Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel has taken a consulting position with a planned children's museum in the San Fernando Valley. Greuel will oversee fundraising and help put together the museum’s board of directors, Discovery Science Center President Joe Adams said. It is understood that Greuel will be paid for her services on an hourly rate, however, it is unlikely that a paycheck is Greuel's primary motivation.

Greuel is reportedly being urged by supporters to have another run for political office, and if the rumor mill is correct, she has her eyes on termed-out L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s seat. A high-profile role in the leadership of a major philanthropic effort such as the children's museum  would not only maintain Greuel's name recognition, but would also go a long way to rehabilitate Greuel's tarnished image after her close association with the demonic DWP union cost her the keys to the Mayor's office. LA's residents continue to receive bi-monthly reminders of how much they have to pay to maintain the grossly inflated salaries of DWP workers employees.

If Greuel's use of a philanthropic effort to rehabilitate her tarnished image sounds a little too far-fetched, Machiavellian even, then remember that the architect of Greuel's Mayoral campaign, John Shallman, give similar advice to his former client Carmen Trutanich.

The spectacular failure of Trutanich's campaign to become District Attorney
has been likened to the Hindenburg Disaster.
 Within days of Trutanich's witheringly humiliating defeat in his Hindenburg-like DA campaign, Shallman advised the wannable presumtive DA heir not to seek reelection as City Attorney. Shallman counseled that the reelection bid would not only fail, but it would also harm any political aspirations possibly held by Trutanich's son, Nick, who had been linked by the Trutanich 'inner circle' to possible runs for City Attorney, District Attorney, or even appointment as US Attorney. Instead, Shallman advised Trutanich to rehabilitate his image by engaging in philanthropic causes to "help reshape his name in the community and the press."

Shallman's advice was contained in what became known as the 'Exit Memo,' Shallman's nine-page analysis of Trutanich's downfall and advice for a graceful exit strategy. The Exit Memo was apparently 'leaked' to the press after Trutanich tried to blame Shallman for his downfall to avoid paying a pile of unpaid bills.

Needless to say, Trutanich ignored the advice and the rest, as they say, is history.

Whether or not Greuel's decision to work as a consultant for the children's hospital is, indeed, a page out of the Shallman political playbook, remains to be seen. Equally, it is unclear whether Shallman would be a consultant for another campaign. Greuel has thus far declined to comment on any future political ambitions. 


We're back!

Yes Dragnet fans, we've been in hibernation for some time while we took a reflective look at where the Dragnet has been and where we should go in the Post-Trutanich world.

Judging by the following the Dragnet enjoyed, our readers come from all across the political spectrum but have a few things in common - a hatred for phony political parvenus and other scumbags, a respect for unsung heroes who quietly, selflessly and effectively get on with the job, and a desire to see and help good people enter leadership positions in our community. With that in mind, the Dragnet will drag on and offer updates on the things you need to know.

The Face of The LAX Shooter Murderer
Murderer Paul Anthony Ciancia
(credit: FBI)

File this one in the 'other scumbags' category.

On Friday, November 1, 2013, 23 year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia murdered TSA Agent Gerardo Hernandez at a document checkpoint inside Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport.

Ciancia also shot and wounded two other TSA Agents and a passenger, causing the shutdown of the Airport for most of the day.

Ciancia's murderous mayhem was swiftly brought to a halt by the brave actions of Los Angeles Airport Police Officers, who shoot and wounded the crazed gunman before he could kill anyone else.

According to the LA Times, Ciancia shot TSA Agent Hernandez at point blank range and then proceeded up an escalator in search of new targets. Witnesses say that as Ciancia rode up the escalator he turned around and noticed Hernandez still moving. Chillingly, Ciancia then went back to Hernandez and shoot him again, this time killing him.

If you want to see what Ciancia looked like after the Airport Police stopped him, click here, but be warned, this is a very graphic image. Credit for the photo of Ciancia laying wounded on the floor of LAX Terminal 3 goes to KFI's Gary Hoffman, who Tweeted the image @garhof.

R.I.P. TSA Agent Gerardo I. Hernandez - "a very nice man"

Slain TSA Agent Gerardo I. Hernandez
(credit: Luis Sinco LA Times)

TSA Agent Gerardo I. Hernandez was "always there to help anyone in need," his wife Ana Hernandez told the LA Times a day after the shooting.

"We are hurting," she said. "I am truly devastated." Flanked by TSA Administrator John Pistole, Ana Hernandez said her husband was "always excited to go to work."

The youngest of four siblings, she said, Gerardo moved to the United States from El Salvador at age 15 and graduated from Los Angeles High School.

Ana Hernandez said she was 16 and he was 19 when the couple met. They married in 1998 on Valentine’s Day.

"It's devastating because he was such a great guy," one of Hernandez's friends, Kevin Maxwell, told KNBC. Maxwell said Hernandez was the "very proud" father of a boy and a girl.

One neighbor, who declined to give his name, said Hernandez once paid him a visit after the neighbor's home was burglarized. He offered help and gave tips on installing security and surveillance. Hernandez's home was burglarized soon after.

"He was a very nice man," the neighbor said. Another neighbor said Hernandez would chat -- and sometimes commiserate -- about being government employees. It was rough, Hernandez would say, getting up early enough to be at his post at the airport by 3 a.m.

Doctors at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center said that when Hernandez arrived, it was evident there was no chance of survival. A round of shots broke into fragments inside his torso and caused chest injuries and debilitating internal bleeding. "We made every effort to stop the bleeding and get the heart to beat on its own," Dr. David Plurad told NBC News.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Gerardo's wife and children.

Fallen Soldier on My Delta Flight

Blogger Johnny 'Jet' DiScala, The Travel Insider, thought his flight on Delta 2255 from Atlanta to LAX to be 'ordinary' until an announcement from the aircrew thanking a number of uniformed soldiers on-board for serving our country. 45 minutes before landing, the captain came on the PA and told passengers that they were transporting a fallen soldier.

According to DiScala, "The plane went quiet as he explained that there was a military escort on-board and asked that everyone remain seated for a couple of minutes so the soldiers could get off first. He also warned us not to be alarmed if we see fire trucks since Los Angeles greets their fallen military with a water canon salute."

"A few minutes after touchdown, we did indeed have a water canon salute, which I’d previously only experienced on happy occasions like inaugural flights. This time, the water glistening on the windowpanes looked like tears." 

DiScala: "The water glistening on the windowpanes looked like tears."

"Passengers in the airport must have been worried when they saw our plane pull into gate 69A, as we had a full police and fire escort, front and back." 

DiScala posted this video of the arrival of his flight on YouTube:

Saturday, November 2, 2013 DiScala, a frequent guest on Tech Guy Leo Laporte's weekend radio show, was choked to tears as he related the what he described his "most memorable flight," witnessing a fallen soldier being returned to his hometown.

DiScala described how the Honor Guard for fallen soldiers came about thanks to a baggage handler at NorthWest Airlines who "got tired of treating fallen soldiers like baggage" and organized an Honor Guard to pay respect to our fallen soldiers.

The saddest moment, DiScala said, was watching the casket draped in the Stars and Stripes being unloaded. "It only got more emotional when I deplaned. There was a large number of passengers, who are normally in a hurry to get home or make a connection, standing by the window to witness something truly moving."

"To see the Honor Guard and family waiting patiently, while LAX baggage handlers and a military loadmaster remove the flag covered casket first from the cargo hold, was humbling to say the least."

"I’m not sure if it was the fallen soldier’s mother or wife who I watched slowly walk up to the coffin while a few other family members, wrapped in blankets, stood near with a dozen or so of the Honor Guards standing in salute."

"As soon as I saw her reach out to put her hand on her baby’s casket, I walked away. This ordinary flight became extraordinary and is one that I will never forget."

Thanks, Johnny, for reminding us of those in our military who pay the ultimate price for our liberty.

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