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."


Marc Debbaudt said...

The ADDA has not paid, nor has it been asked to pay, nor can it justify paying any money concerning the federal case that both Ipsen and Seligman lost. They were represented by private attorneys that were not paid for by the ADDA.

The Ipsen termination case before ERCOM has an ADDA aspect. The case is pending and in settlement negotiations. I am an Officr of the ADDA. I think the concern about paying Ipsen's fees is legitimate. I would like to comment beyond that but I'm told I can't and shouldn't.

I disagree with McClay, the current President's, stance on a number of issues which is why I am running. I also disagreed with Ipsen and Seligman on many things when they were Presidents. I also supported all three when I agreed with them. However, that said, they were uncompensated volunteers who sacrificed their time and energy to advance the interests of their fellow DDAs, and I admire that in the face of so many of your commentators who hide behind anonmity and do nothing but bitch. Like our criminal adversarial system, I think the battles clarified the goals and the methods of what was best for DDAs. When I disagreed with them, I spoke up and fought believing, like they did, that I was trying to advance the interests of my fellow DDAs. I wouldn't want someone like me bugging me the way I bugged them in the battle to advance what was best for members, because I did so zealously. That, and of course, the relentless personality attacks one suffers as a result of being, or even running, for President of the ADDA, explain why I still don't want to be President of the ADDA. You won't be hurting my feelings if you vote against me. You will be saving me from abuse. Anyone who wants the job must be a little masochistic. The fact that Donna McClay is choosing to run after a few years of unrelenting abuse as President is a testament of her fortitude, and I both admire her for that and think she must be as insane as I am. There is only one reason to vote for me and only one reason I am running, to pull the blood sucking leech of AFSCME from the ADDA's neck.

Marc Debbaudt

Anonymous said...

Berger, why do you keep posting that DDAs are paying for Ipsen's legal fees when it has been posted on here several times that they aren't. Do you perpetually lie because you can't help yourself or are you incapable of retaining information, processing it and coming up with a conclusion? Donna will not go after AFSCME, and a vote for her ensures that DDAs get stuck with them for eternity. It is in her career's best interest to play nice, even if it costs DDAs more money in health care, low pay and no improvement in working conditions.

Anonymous said...

I think Deputy City Atty Geller crossed the line of acceptable argument when he suggested Judge Richman had an undisclosed mental condition. Blatt could have got a mistrial for that, but I think he knew that he had already won the case.

Congrats to Judge Richman and James Blatt. As for Mr. Geller, he should apologize.

Anonymous said...

Marc, the ADDA also paid for Ipsen's legal fees in his ERCOM claim of employment discrimination. You remember that one don't you? You know, that's the case that Judge Lavan just threw out due to improper ex-parte communications from ADDA board members to ERCOM.

I understand your concern that you cannot comment about the enormous waaste of our money on Ipsen's self-serving political ambitions, but to me it sounds too much like DWP union boss Brian D'Arcy's refusal to turn over details of the $40M slush fund.

Time for a little more transparency. Grow a pair and tell us the truth.

Marc Debbaudt said...

Contrary to what people may think or assert, I have no agenda whatsoever against the current DA or this Administration. NONE! In fact, I believe it is a nicer Administration and I wish it success. I also believe, because it is obvious, that the success of this office is our personal success. They are intertwined. I accepted as true what Lacey said when she was campaigning, that she is not Cooley. I believe she demonstrated that several of the malevolent forces of the prior Administration were purged. However, it has been more than a year and no significant change has occurred whatsoever to our pay, pension or working conditions. As I have mentioned in my platform statement, the new Transfer Policy is worse than the original. I have a table where I compare them. Read the two side by side and see for yourself. Furthermore, the 6% COLA was given by the County to everyone and had absolutely nothing to do with this Administration’s efforts, nor the efforts, if any, of AFSCME or the ADDA’s negotiations. To think otherwise is ludicrous. Your CBU [certified bargaining unit] accomplished absolutely nothing in bargaining. There are those on the Board, including McClay, who were waiting and hoping the new DA would just give us things. It hasn’t happened. If the CBU is about just taking what is doled out, then we simply don’t need to be a CBU. We can just fold up, keep quiet and hope for the generous benevolence of the Administration to shower us with gifts. If that is our strategy as a CBU, then we obviously do not need to continue to exist. I have directly and expressly told the Administration that I firmly believe that the difference between labor and management can be resolved without resort to litigation in the courts or ERCOM and that I have been hoping for a new and meaningful d├ętente to improve the circumstances of all deputy district attorneys. However, I do not see the ADDA’s role as a CBU to be passively awaiting concessions. The ADDA does not exist to accept nothing, to just wait and hope, or do nothing to advance the members interests. If the Administration will not make meaningful concessions, give us a meaningful Transfer Policy and revise the Promotion process, and when it becomes clear that our conversations are futile, then I support litigation because we have no other tool as we cannot strike or jeopardize public safety. I don’t know how to be clearer.

Marc Debbaudt

Anonymous said...

7:53 - There was no improper ex parte communications between Ipsen and the hearing officer that were any different then the communications of Julie-Dixon-Silva. The email sent to the hearing officer by Ipsen, inviting him to lunch was a mass mailing sent out to thousands of people to show up at a lunch time victim's rights event outside CCB that most of you got, that AFSCME also sent and promoted. Cooley was probably personally invited. There was no joy ride in Ipsen's exotic car. Julie-Dixon-Silva sent Causey emails that were far more inappropriate than Ipsen's and she visited his office regularly. Those were ex-parte visits. Both sides were told to communicate with the officer directly. Did Dick Shinee, the ADDA attorney, argued this before Lavine ruled? It's to be investigated, but Lavine called no witnesses and didn't look into it clearly showing he is in bed with Jones Day and the County. The ruling was specifically for Causey, but they pulled Ipsen into it for collateral estopple purposes only. Donna doesn't understand the complex nature of all of this and how it hurts DDAs in the future. She doesn't understand the ramifcations of her actions. She just wants it to go away, so she can blast that it is over. But, it won't be over and it will be to the detriment of the ADDAs' cases still pending. Donna doesn't understand this, and has made drastic errors that affect DDAs for her own self fulfillment. Marc is the only one who understands this complicated litigation because he has lived it. She is dangerous to DDAs in that regard, most certainly.

Marc Debbaudt said...

I have a pair and don't hide behind anonymity. It is common sense and contrary to legal advice to talk about pending case, especially when I am an officer of the ADDA. Talking about facts and opinions can signal info to the parties that can jeopardize strategies and positions. It is that simple. And you 2/7/14 a 7:53 AM are wrong about the facts of the case Lavin decided. Mr. Ipsen was not a party to that case as he withdrew from that case in the middle of the ERCOM hearing and before the decision in which the ADDA and I prevailed! and before the appeal! and before the emails were discovered and before Lavin made his ruling. So insensitive fees were not paid in this matter whatsoever. So you have your facts completely wrong.

Marc Debbaudt

Anonymous said...

Either way you slice Marc, it is fair to say the overwhelming majority of DDAs who are represented by you are tired of paying for Ipsen's shenanigans and there is no doubt that the ADDA has incurred vast financial liabilities because of that. Fess up already.

Anonymous said...

Marc, you do realize Judge Lavin's decision, spelling out yours an Ipsen's conduct, is posted on this site?

Either you're a liar or the ADDA was represented by some really incompetent counsel in front if Lavin . Either way, you are making the case for your own unsuitablity to lead.

Anonymous said...

@11:00am. I think it's a little unfair to call Marc a liar. He is an officer of the ADDA and has to abide by their rules which prevents the rank and file from learning certain facts. We have to draw our own conclusions and based on what I can see here, I'm voting for Donna.

Anonymous said...

Election ballots arrived today. I am voting for Marc. Why? He seems to be the most responsive to members concerns. Dragnet gave Donna and Marc the opportunity to respond to concerns about Ipsen's litigation costs and AFSCME dues. Marc responded at 5am. Nothing from Donna and that is as disappointing as it is telling.

Anonymous said...

11:21 I agree with you. We need to restore some civility to these discussions, especially because we're all colleagues. I've read some of these diatribes and hyperbolic rants. I'm disappointed that this is what the public sees when they see our leadership. It's about civility. I'm voting for Donna.

marc debbaudt said...

I don’t know why I’m being called a liar. A liar about what? This commentator, 2/7/14 at 11:00 AM, will say anything and like most cowards will hide behind anonymity. His vile hatred twists reality and disregards the facts and makes spurious claims. And, Berger, the Editor, though indicating that defamatory and abusive comments will be deleted, appears to disregard his own rules.

As to my “ex parte” communications with Mr. Causey: Causey was the Executive Director of ERCOM, not the hearing officer. I never communicated with the hearing officer except during the hearing. Talking to Causey was like talking to the clerk of the court, but not in the hearing room, since his office was a hallway away. The judge’s ruling failed to mention that “everyone” talked to Causey, including the County’s and the DA’s attorneys. Why did his opinion omit that? I find it to be a curious omission by the Judge.

Why did I talk to the Executive Director at all? Because of his title. He was the Executive Director and I wanted some Executive Direction. I soon learned, and did not know at the beginning, that the ERCOM hearings, unlike criminal court, would not be on consecutive days, but on random days spread out over months until the hearing was over. Each future date was selected after virtually hours of debate with most dates being a month or two apart. It was always the DA’s office being the stalling force and having difficulty selecting dates. Read the transcripts. That’s why the hearing lasted 2 ½ years.

Since one aspect of my complaint was a retaliatory transfer, I spoke at the outset of the hearing, that is within the first month or two when I learned how the process would be drawn out, to the Executive Director about how unfair it was that the hearing dates were months apart. This meant that the Administration would win by virtue of the fact that the case wouldn’t be resolved for years and I would remain in a juvenile court as a top-step grade IV doing the exact same work that new DDA Grade IIs do.

I asked him nothing about the merits, nor talk about the subject matter of the case. I only inquired why we couldn’t get consecutive dates and get it done quicker? That, and that alone, was my “ex parte” communication to someone who wasn’t even a party.

As it turns out,though “winning,” I remained in juvenile court for three years. Furthermore, I did not know that Causey was emailing the hearing officer.

I did not communicate again with Causey at all about this case during the next two years. So, there were two years of no communications between me and Causey.

To this day, I do not believe I did anything whatsoever wrong or improper or unethical, and I was embarrassed by the way the opinion was written and how it made me appear. I think it was a distorted opinion and it never addressed the substantial evidence that supported the case, only the improper communication between the Executive Director and the Hearing Officer which I had nothing to do with.

Apparently, the comentator that calls me a liar has plenty of opinions and thinks he knows something, but can't read or think for himself or analzye facts and details. he spews hate and what someone else tells him to think. really, could this guy be a DDA and claim to be doing justice? It is hard to believe.

Marc Debbaudt

Marc Debbaudt said...

As to paying for Ipsen's Shennaigans: What shennagians of Ipsen has the ADDA paid for? What are you talking about? The Burke case was not caused by Ipsen. The Board voted to defend the case that Burke filed against the ADDA. I get you hate Ipsen, and you didn't like Ipsen as President. But what has the ADDA paid for? You can hate Ipsen all you want, but what has that to do with ADDA money?

Are you really a DDA? Do you really feel comfortable spewing hate and making accusations based on rumors with no substantive evidence or information to share?

Marc Debbaudt

Anonymous said...

You do realize that these long rage filled rants (especially the ones where we can feel the spit hit your screen) tend to validate the criticism about "tin foil hat crazies" on the ADDA board. I didn't think the guy should have called you a "liar," but you're showing your way too thin skinned for the job.

Anonymous said...

I predict Donna will win handily. Marc has a little too much venom in him to be representative of the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

Marc, just to be clear, 11:00am did not call you a liar, he or she said "Either you're a liar or the ADDA was represented by some really incompetent counsel in front if (sic) Lavin."

Clearly, improper ex parte communications were made. The emphasis here, is on the communications being IMPROPER. Nobody is accusing you of making the improper communications. That seems to have been Ipsen and Seligman's role, and let's face it, both of them have more than a few hits on their rap sheets in that regard. I don't mean to speak ill of the dead where Seligman is concerned, may he rest in peace, but his incautious remarks about race and gender are facts and bottom line, the guy was a good guy who came from a time when attitudes were different regarding race and gender issues.

Ipsen is another animal altogether. If you read his termination letter, he lied to judges, he lied to his supervisors, and he lied to us. You may have been uncomfortable with the 3 strikes policy, but you didn't invent some bogus 'reform now' political platform and try to pretend it was the official policy of the office.

The fact is that the ADDA Board bought into Ipsen's bullshit about employment retaliation, paid for his retaliation lawsuit and is now paying for his lawsuit challenging his termination. You've read the termination letter, you cannot possibly defend what Ipsen's actions. Nobody can. It is an outrage that the rank and file are being forced to pay for lawyers to defend what is utterly indefensible. He crossed the line and some.

The ADDA has a responsibility to ALL its members and to waste money on trying to defend Ipsen is a disgusting waste of OUR money. It shows a disregard for basic concepts of fairness and integrity. It demonstrates a lack of accountability and I think a real leader would put a stop to it, rather than encourage it.

Donna has done a solid and responsible job as President for the last two years. That's the kind of leader I am looking for. She has taken some very unkind criticism here, but you don't see her reacting to it like you do. Someone called you "thin skinned" well breaking news Marc, you need to be able to take a little criticism now and then. Donna has a lot of class to try to bring some order and normality to the vipers pit that is the monthly ADDA board meeting. She gets my vote, and I expect, the majority of DDAs votes for showing the calm and considered leadership the ADDA needs.

Berger, thanks for giving the silent majority a chance to voice their opinions. If you ever want to run for ADDA President, you have my vote. For now, it goes to Donna.

Anonymous said...

Marc "The Burke case was not caused by Ipsen." Are you freakin kidding! Buke sued the ADDA because IPSEN was trying to disregard the bylaws. Sure, he romanced many of you buffoons to believe his Area 51 logic, but it was HIS doing.

And guess what? Peter Burke was right. Ipsen was wrong. And we get to pay for HIS screw up because you Ipsen koolaide drinkers wasted $150,000 in legal fees trying to destroy Burke, instead of doing the right thing.

What concerns me is why are you continue trying to defend it?

Anonymous said...

Berger, you and the other commentators to this board have buried the lead. In the very first comment to this board in this segment, we get this nugget from Debbaudt.

"The Ipsen termination case before ERCOM has an ADDA aspect. The case is pending and in settlement negotiations. I am an Officr of the ADDA. I think the concern about paying Ipsen's fees is legitimate."
Marc Debbaudt
February 7, 2014 at 4:54 AM


That was easy. And it's a post from Marc Debbaudt so I take it he meant it (it WAS 4:54am, so who knows. . . .4:54am?????, . . . well that's another bucket of worms)

Okay, so WHY was Ipsen terminated? Berger, you've got the goods! Time to run another segment. I saw the original segment on Ipsen's termination on this board, and I was disgusted. How ANYONE can say that type of activity has an "ADDA aspect" is simply asinine.

So the issue is clear. Let's explore the Ipsen termination again in all its rancid glory. And keep in mind, IF YOU WANT YOUR DUES TO PAY FOR IPSEN'S TERMINATION LEGAL FEES VOTE FOR MARC DEBBAUDT.


Anonymous said...

@9:02AM - Berger posted Ipsen's termination letter on December 6.

I do think he should have done a breakdown of all the reasons why Ipsen was fired. From what I read, Ipsen was using the courtroom to advance his DA campaign. He gave defendants sweetheart deals striking strikes without approval, and entering into illegal sentences with suspended strike prison sentences. This was all part of his 'reform now' campaign platform. He lied to the judge that 'reform now' was the policy of the DA's office, and then when confronted by his supervisor he lied and said the reform now sentences he used were different from his political campaign. Oh, he also hid disposition reports and imposed different sentences to agreed upon dispositions. He also lied and said that the changes he made to DRs and the illegal sentences were approved when they were not. He then said that other DDAs made the same dispos, they did not. Total freakin liar.

Now Marc, can you please point out precisely what part of Ipsen's conduct has "an ADDA aspect?"

I don't see anything that Ipsen did that is anything the ADDA should support. As such, paying for Ipsen's hopeless challenge to his firing is a reckless unauthorized waste of our money.