Monday, February 24, 2014

ADDA Supports Death Penalty Reform and DDA Candidates for Judge

ADDA members received two email announcements from the administration of newly-elected ADDA President Marc Debbaudt.The first seeks volunteers to gather signatures for an initiative to fix much of what is wrong with the death penalty in California. As the Dragnet recently reported, the initiative is supported by Governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, and retired  District Attorney Steve Cooley.

The ADDA is actively recruiting volunteers to help collect signatures for the ADDA endorsed Death Penalty Reform Initiative. The initiative would be placed on the November ballot for 2014 final statewide election. The petition needs at least 1.2 million signatures to qualify for the ballot. ADDA is calling on our members to assist in the signature gathering process. The signature process is lengthy so it’s important to have lawyers circulating the petition. Three former California Governors, Deukmejian, Wilson and Davis, support the reform effort and announced their support at a highly publicized news conference kicking off the petition effort on February 13, 2014. According to former Governor Davis, “the initiative will save money, reform the system and bring closure more quickly to victim’s families.”

The initiative seeks to do the following:
  1. Give state appellate courts jurisdiction over death penalty appeals before consideration by California State Supreme Court 
  2. Imposes time limits on state court death penalty review
  3. Requires state appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to take capital appeals 
  4. Exempts prison officials from existing regulations process for developing execution methods
  5. Requires death row inmates to work and pay victim restitution 
  6. Will transfer death row inmates among the state wide prison population 
The State Legislative Analyst estimates that the state will save tens of millions in taxpayer dollars related to the death penalty.

Please see any ADDA board member or contact Californians for Death Penalty Reform and Savings at for how to circulate/obtain petitions. You can also contact Phyllis Loya, Chairperson of Californians for Death Penalty Reform at

ADDA Supports DDA Judicial Candidates

The ADDA will host a meet and greet at Engine Company No 28 on March 4, 2014 introducing ADDA-endorsed judicial candidates
  • Andrew Cooper,
  • Amy Carter,
  • Ann Park
  • Carol Najera
  • Dayan Mathai
  • Donna Armstrong
  • Serena Murillo
  • Aliston Matsumoto-Estrada
  • Stacy Okun-Wise
  • Teresa Magno
The event will also honor recently appointed Superior Court Judge the Hon. Frank Tavelman, along with Hilda Solis, a candidate for the Board of Supervisors.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Briefs: City Attorney Feuer, Judge Candidates Cooper & Rose

City Attorney Mike Feuer fulfills promise

During the closing phases of the 2013 City Attorney race, City Attorney candidate Mike Feuer participated in the Italian American Lawyers Association's City Attorney Debate alongside soon to be defeated incumbent Carmen Trutanich. Feuer promised that, if elected, he would return and Wednesday night, Feuer lived up to his promise appearing as the IALA's keynote speaker.

In a humorous contrast to Trutanich's reputation for breaking promises, Feuer was introduced with the master of ceremonies stating that no threats of full page advertisements were needed to secure Feuer's attendance. Fulfilling promises was the theme of Feuer's keynote with the City Attorney speaking at length about the way he had fulfilled a campaign promise to restaff the City Prosecutor Program that had been decimated by his predecessor. Feuer went on list many of the early changes and achievements under his administration, often peppering his presentation with humorously self-deprecating anecdotes.

DDA Judge candidates Cooper and Rose press the flesh

Former DAs Robert Philibosian and Steve Cooley joined DDA Andrew Cooper at the IALA dinner.
Also in attendance at the IALA dinner were a couple of DDA candidates for the Los Angeles Superior Court. DDA Andrew Cooper, was pictured above with former District Attorneys Robert Philibosian and Steve Cooley, both of whom have endorsed him. Cooper is running for Office 157, currently held by Judge Jessica Perrin Silver, who retires at the end of the month. Cooper has drawn a challenge from former Referee Arnold Mednick who was a late entrant to the race. Cooper certainly appears to be up the challenge; he has a slew of campaign events scheduled and is clearly taking every opportunity to advance his candidacy.

DDA Carol Rose was also doing the rounds at the IALA dinner. The 35 year veteran prosecutor was a late entrant to the race and is running for Office 48, currently held by retiring Judge Ronald Sohigian. That race appears a crowded one currently, with DDAs Amy Carter, Efrain Aceves, and Helen Kim all having filed papers for the Office, as well as former President of the Criminal Courts Bar Association Andrew Stein and former state Senate and Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon. It is understood that Rose may not ultimately face quite so many challengers as most have filed for other seats and have until March 7, 2014 to make their final decision.

For an excellent review of all those running for Judge, click here to read the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Marc Debbaudt Elected ADDA President

In a surprise upset, incumbent ADDA President Donna McClay was defeated Tuesday night by challenger Marc Debbaudt, according to an email announcement from the ADDA.

The ADDA Website was updated at around 10PM to reflect the results, however, no information was provided as to the number of votes cast for Debbaudt and McClay.

Although McClay appeared to have the support of the majority of DDAs, it is likely that many who approved of her leadership style either did not bother to vote, or were unable to do so because they do not pay the additional $10 monthly ADDA dues.

Debbaudt has yet to release a statement, however, it is likely that he will do so shortly and will likely urge members to support his platform promise to exercise the "Escape Clause" that will cause the ADDA to terminate its expensive affiliation with AFSCME; the labor organization that was blasted by Debbaudt as "a financial vampire, draining your dues, giving you little in return."

Implicit with the Escape Clause is the promise of reduced monthly dues, a factor that may have persuaded ADDA members with voting privileges to support Debbaudt's candidacy.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy President's Day

Clinton and Romney look set to be the voters choice in 2016
While the choice of America's next President is a way's off, the likelihood is that it will boil down to a battle between a pair of veteran campaigners.

Closer to home, however, is the choice of the next President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys with incumbent Donna McClay appearing to be the likely winner when the votes are counted Tuesday night.

If you did not vote, then you have yourself to blame if you don't like the winner. 

Sheriff's Race Developments

Former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton has joined the ever-growing list of prominent law enforcement personalities supporting Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell in his bid to become LA County's next Sheriff. The LA Times reported that Bratton has endorsed his former Assistant Chief.

While the McDonnell camp continues to look stronger and the likely pick of voters, challenger, former Undersheriff Paul Tanka's campaign suffered a major setback with the LA Times reporting on emails linking Tanaka uncomfortably to the scandal surrounding the hiding of the FBI informant who blew the whistle on corruption and abuse in the County Jail.

McDonnell's late entry to the race was a game changer and major upset to former favorite Bob Olmsted, who had replaced his campaign management from John Thomas to John Shallman. Shallman probably thought Olmsted was a sure winner with both Baca and Tanaka looking unlikely to win. But when McDonnell stepped in, rumor has it that Shallman wasted no time in courting candidates in other races to make up for the likely fall off in Olmsted's campaign warchest. Today the LA Times reported that Shallman will represent Marianne Williamson in her bid to replace retiring Congressman Waxman's 33rd District seat. Interestingly, a former Shallman client LA Mayoral hopeful Wendy Greuel is also running for that seat. It's a case of deja vu all over again, with Shallman being no stranger for representing clients in one campaign, only to rip them to shreds in another. Just ask former DA wannabe Carmen Trutanich ...

Voter Initiative To Reform Death Penalty Kicks Off 

Thursday, February 13, 2014, Los Angeles: Governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, Former LA District Attorney Steve Cooley and Californians for Death Penalty Reform and Savings Launch Signature Gathering Effort.

Californians for Death Penalty Reform and Savings were joined by Governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, and former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to announce the launch of signature gathering for a statewide ballot initiative to fix the death penalty in California.

Voters support reform of California’s death penalty. It has become ineffective because of waste, delays, and inefficiencies.  Fixing it will save California taxpayers millions of dollars every year, assure due process protections for those sentenced to death and promote justice for murder victims and their families. Death row inmates have murdered over 1000 victims, including 229 children and 43 police officers; 235 victims were raped and 90 victims were tortured.  It’s time California reformed our death penalty process so it works.

This initiative will ensure justice for both victims and defendants by:
1.      Reforming the Appeals Process

2.      Reforming Death Row Housing and Victim Restitution

3.      Reforming the Appointment of Appellate Counsel and Agency Oversight

More information on the initiative can be found at

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ADDA President Donna McClay Makes Case for Elect and Retain

ADDA President Donna McClay reached out to her supporters Monday with this email blast (full text appears below):

Donna has Preserved DDAs’ Pay and Benefits
v  Contract extensions in 2011 and 2012 saved our Megaflex and Flex benefits plans for health care premiums, 401(k), 457(b) and step increases from reductions that could have been imposed by the County through Impasse
v  Pay raises for all DDAs –with new Contract, 6% paid over 24 months is same as Deputy Sheriffs, Firefighters and Probation Officers
Donna has the Temperament to work with management to get changes DDAs want without filing lawsuits
v  Eliminated “mandatory” lunchtime seminars
v   Stopped job description changes for DDAs that, if implemented, could have resulted in de factor demotions without administrative or legal remedies
v  Has earned management’s trust so is effective at bargaining for new contract
v  Has scheduled meetings with District Attorney management and Superior Court reps to discuss changes in metal detector security screenings and promotions process
Donna has Personal Integrity and Credibility
v  No vendetta against County or District Attorney management
v  No personal lawsuits or grievances against District Attorney or County
v  No self-interest for promotion, assignment or money
Donna has been Fiscally Responsible
v  She has not squandered DDAs’ money with new lawsuits
v  ADDA’s re-payment of our AFSCME loans is on track for full payment when due
 Donna has Plans for the ADDA’s Future Success
v   Better communication with DDAs and inclusion of DDAs in the ADDA’s decisions
v  Revise the ADDA’s bylaws to benefit DDAS
v  Build relationships with political forces that will impact our next Contract
- # - # - # -
Ballots have to received by 5:00pm Tuesday, February 2014.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Musings; ADDA Election Update

ADDA Presidential Election Update - McClay favored over Debbaudt

The ballots for the February 18, 2014 election to decide on whether ADDA President Donna McClay should continue as President, or whether challenger Marc Debbaudt gets a shot at leadership, have arrived.

Based on many of the comments posted last week (see comments posted on Monday and Friday), there is a sharp divide between those who favor McClay's style of leadership which focuses more on doing the best job for all DDAs, and Debbaudt's which appears to mirror the style of the Ipsen era focusing more on individuals who have personal axes to grind.

Some say that McClay is too closely aligned with District Attorney Jackie Lacey and AFSCME to be an effective leader. In doing so, others say that a small group of malcontents ignore the fact that under McClay's leadership real progress has been made for all DDAs in terms of pay rises and improvements to working conditions. A small, vitriolic group favors Debbaudt's approach, one which promises to end affiliation with AFSCME and a return of the acrimony and impasse that marked the Ipsen era with expensive lawsuits that were more concerned with individual members of the ADDA.

When membership of the ADDA was entirely voluntary, it was not surprising that the causes it fought were of direct concern to those like Ipsen, rather than matters of concern to the vast majority of DDAs. But now that all DDAs are required to pay union dues, it seems that the ADDA must become more representative of all its members, not just those who have behaved in a manner apparently not befitting the position of Deputy District Attorney.

Debbaudt, it appears, favors the ADDA's continuing to use members' dues to pay for lawyers to defend against Ipsen's termination because, as Debbaudt commented "The Ipsen termination case before ERCOM has an ADDA aspect." Few would agree. Perhaps Debbaudt has not read Ipsen's termination letter, it is hard to imagine any member agreeing that there is "an ADDA aspect" to any of the conduct outlined in the letter.

Judging by the comments, the choice appears to be a fairly straightforward one; a vote for McClay which allows the interests of all DDAs to be paramount and fairly represented, or a vote for Debbaudt which promises to take us back to the dark ages, where Area 51 conspiracies and hopeless expensive lawsuits condoning "improper and egregious conduct in violation of the law and the DAO policy" rule the day.

As a footnote, a small number comments could not be posted. Not because of the personal attacks made against the Dragnet, those merely show readers that there are some seriously unhinged people out there, but rather because those comments contain truly defamatory remarks about others.

Unfortunately, votes in ADDA elections are historically low, favoring small but highly motivated groups. In this election, it appears that those who favor a moderate and measured leader will have to make sure they post their ballots in time to be counted.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday's Free For All; ADDA Election turns sour, 15 DDAs in hunt for Judgeship, Judge Richman Acquitted

ADDA Election Turns Sour

Comments posted in response to Monday's article about the upcoming ADDA election suggests that incumbent President Donna McClay has a strong support, but also has a fight on her hands from challenger Marc Debbaudt, a longtime ADDA member who, on February 7, 2012, is reported to have stated "I don't want to be President. Please never suggest that again."

While many hail McClay for calming the stormy relationship the ADDA has had with the administration ever since disgraced former DDA Steve Ipsen hijacked the association in a failed attempt to further his political ambitions, others seem to favor Debbaudt for his apparent intention to separate the ADDA from AFSCME and lower the $900 annual union dues paid by DDAs. Others have suggested that instead of voting for McClay or Debbaudt, members should "write in ... I vote to Decertify the ADDA, and cease affiliation with AFSCME," a vote that is suggested would terminate the enforced payment of dues altogether.

Judging by the generally vitriolic tone of comments, there appears to be a deep division among members as to the direction the ADDA should take. Regrettably, the vitriol extended to comments about former ADDA President Hyatt Seligman, who is understood to have passed away on Thursday.

Vitriol aside, few can deny that under McClay's leadership, the ADDA has emerged from the dark ages marked by Steve Ipsen and his progeny. McClay masterminded the successful hosting of the final District Attorney Debate in 2012, something that could never have occurred during the Ipsen era. McClay's approach appears to be one of building bridges rather than destroying them, and while that should appeal to many ADDA members, McClay would do well to assure members that they will be allowed to vote on the topic of extending or terminating the ADDA's relationship with AFSCME.

When the ADDA affiliated with AFSCME, the terms included a three-year deal under which all members had to pay substantial dues to AFSCME, in return for AFSCME's agreement to pay the  costly court losses sustained by Ipsen for failing to abide by the ADDA bylaws. It is also unclear as to how much of members' dues ($900 a year for Grades III and IV) currently is being used to fund the losses sustained by Ipsen and Selgiman who unsuccessfully sued the DA's Office in 2013. Their claims of employment retaliation were summarily thrown out by a Federal Jury. It is understood that the ADDA continues to pay Ipsen's legal fees in connection with another lawsuit concerning his termination.

The Dragnet will publish any comments McClay or Debbaudt may wish to make to give members any further insight into these issues.

The election is on February 18, 2014. Members should be receiving ballots any day now.

15 Deputy District Attorneys running to become Judges

The number of Deputy District Attorneys running to become Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court increased from eleven, as previously reported, to fifteen according to the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise. who provided this list:

Superior Court Judge Craig Richman Not Guilty of Battery on "Crazy" Woman

According to the Los Angeles Times, after a week-long trial a Van Nuys jury found Superior Court Judge Craig Richman not guilty of an alleged battery arising from a dispute over a bag of dog waste.

Courtroom observers had passed comments to the Dragnet that the case, prosecuted by the City Attorney's Office, had "collapsed" after Connie F. Romero, the alleged victim, was cross-examined by Judge Richman's defense attorney, James Blatt. "She is clearly a crazy," one observer opined. Another commented that "her credibility was shot to pieces" when Blatt impeached Romero showing that she was claiming disability payments while earning and not reporting $250 a month for walking dogs and cleaning houses for a couple in Richman's neighborhood, as the Times reported.

Prosecutor, Deputy City Attorney Joshua Geller, attempted to deflect claims by Blatt that Romero was mentally ill, accusing Blatt of trying to smear Romero. Geller acknowledged Romero was a "troubled person," but went on to say that Judge Richman went out of his way during the confrontation to continue engaging her until he snapped and pushed her to the ground.
"He too may be suffering from some undiagnosed mental condition," Geller said. "This is someone who picked a complete stranger to accost in the street." Geller, it seems, lost the plot at that point, and lost the jury too.

Blatt, in a statement to the Times, said he welcomed the jury's verdict and decried the decision by the city attorney's office to charge his client with misdemeanor battery. He described Romero as having a history of mental instability and previous acts of violence.

"For them to pursue this matter ... I consider that a crime," he said after Thursday's verdict was announced. "They knew from the very beginning that under these circumstances it would be very difficult to obtain a conviction against Judge Richman, and they pursued this matter anyway."

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the city attorney's office, declined to comment, other than to say, "We respect the jury's decision."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Musings: New Sheriff Sweeps Clean, ADDA Elections

(Interim) Sheriff John Scott Dumps Baca's Boondoggle Boys

LA County's interim Sheriff was wasted no time shutting down one of former Sheriff Lee Baca's boondoggles; the scandal-ridden "Civilian Field Deputy" program that was costing taxpayers over a half a million dollars a year, with zero accountability.
Sheriff Scott shut down the Civilian Field Deputy program Friday,
firing the three remaining highly paid individuals.

This exclusive report from ABC Eyewitness News:

Rumors that there was yet another scandal brewing in the Sheriff's Department started last year when Field Deputy Bishop Edward Turner, one of "Baca's Boondoggle Boys" receiving $105,000 a year from taxpayers, as well as a county car, phone and badge, was discovered to be the landlord of an illegal medical marijuana shop. Turner, who said his duties included "drug-abuse prevention," could hardly claim not to have known what his tenants were doing in his store; it was located across the street from his church.

Turner was "relieved of duty" when Eyewitness News broke the story in November last year, but Baca continued to pay the three remaining members of his program. It took newly installed Sheriff Scott to shut the program down when he heard of Eyewitness News' latest scandal about one of the remaining civilian field deputies; Field Deputy Michael Yamaki, who made $171,000 a year on Baca's gravy train, but who seemed to spend much of his time on the links at the Riviera County Club, apparently on the county dime.

A Public Records Act request by Eyewitness News for records of Yamaki's work calendar and job description was responded to by the Sheriff's Department with the stunning statement that "those things do not exist" for the man who received $171k a year of taxpayer funds.

Sheriff Scott has launched an official inquiry into "possible misuse of public funds" and likely has his eye on other Baca Boondoogles, such as what is understood to be called the "Special" Reserve Deputy program, under which businessmen who are friends of Baca, get to carry guns and a badge - understood to be handy for getting out of traffic tickets.

ADDA Election Time

It's time to pick a new President and officers for the ADDA. Current President Donna McClay is being challenged by Marc Debbaudt who is a DDA, and (don't laugh) James Bozajian, who is understood to be retiring wants to be Vice-President.

This from Donna McClay:

This from Marc Debbaudt:

Debbaudt's campaign platform can be accessed by clicking here.

There is nothing from James Bozajian, but that's nothing new.