Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ADDA's New Bylaws - A Change For The Better

The Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys has been through difficult times in recent years. Few remember the days when the ADDA was a happy helpful group of volunteers who held social events and sold ADDA merchandise at Saturday seminars. That ADDA exemplified what was the strength of those who forsake the lure of private practice, and instead enjoyed the esprit de corps that made, and continues to make public service at the LA County District Attorney's Office the most rewarding of career choices.

It probably never occurred to those who founded the ADDA that the organization they established to promote the well-being of their loyal, hard-working and selfless colleagues could be hijacked by self-serving malcontents; embittered lack-luster losers who took advantage of a lack of involvement in the running of the ADDA to grasp power, and then played fast and loose with the rules to promote their personal agendas at the expense of the vast majority of DDAs. 

Those days have passed. They must never return again. Under the leadership of current ADDA President Marc Debbaudt and other Board Members who stepped up to the plate to undo the damage Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman did, they have taken on the might of 'Big Labor' AFSCME and divorced us from the unholy marriage that Ipsen and Seligman brokered, and they have worked hard to build an effective working relationship with the District Attorney and her administration. This is the new ADDA, and it's one that DDAs can be proud of.

Debbaudt now asks the 500 plus ADDA fee-paying members to approve a new set of Bylaws; a set of rules that will not allow a Ipsen or Seligman clone to again use the ADDA as the launchpad for their pathetic self-serving purposes. The new Bylaws have been distributed to all fee-paying member and awaits approval. That approval should be a 'no brainer,' but some have raised issues with the new rules. Members on various email lists have had their mailboxes stuffed with lengthy, sometimes eye-rolling missives pointing out defects or deficiencies in the new rules. Some of the issues raised are valid and were adopted, but others are purely obstructionist, or contemplate unlikely 'End of Days' scenarios.

The bottom line is that no set of rules is ever perfect. Rules are only as good as the people who are trusted to follow them. Marc Debbaudt has done more to earn the trust of DDAs than any of his predecessors, and voting for the new Bylaws is as much a referendum and vote of approval for the Debbaudt's leadership, as it is an assurance that the ADDA will never return to the Kafkaesque dark days of the Ipsen-Seligman era.

It only takes a simple majority of approval votes to pass the new Bylaws, and many who have received them may not even bother to return their voting cards. But remember, just as rules alone will not guard against major assholes like Ispen, an active and engaged membership will keep the dark forces at bay. Vote for the new Bylaws and send a message to the ADDA that you approve their leadership and the direction they're taking.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Large Field of Candidates Expected for 2016 Race for Robes

First look at who's running for Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2016

The June 7, 2016 Primary Election promises to be a blockbuster in terms of the number of candidates seeking a seat on the Los Angeles County Superior Court. As many as 17 candidates have thus far expressed their intentions to run for robes, vying for 6 likely open seats. At least 9 Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys are confirmed as candidates, with 2 others expected to announce shortly. The remaining 6 comprise a Superior Court Commissioner, a Deputy Attorney General, a Deputy City Attorney, and 3 attorneys. In the 2014 Judicial elections, 28 candidates threw their hats in the ring, so expect the numbers to rise early in the New Year, ahead of the February filing period.

Here's what we know about the DDAs who have formally staked a place in the race for robes:
Note: Candidates listed below appear in alphabetical order. The order in which they appear is not an indication of any ranking or rating.

Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves

Aceves first ran for robes in the 2014 election; it was a crowded contest for Seat No. 48 with no less than 5 candidates seeking to replace retiring Judge Ronald Sohigian. Aceves subsequently withdrew his candidacy citing fears that the race “may end up injecting even more politics into a judicial race that I feel should be above partisan politics,” - a statement believed to refer to the controversial candidacy of then opponent Charles Calderon, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported. Currently serving as a Calendar Deputy at the Norwalk Office, Aceves has 17 years service at the DA's Office and 2 years as a Federal Probation officer to his credit.  

With the experience of his 2014 run behind him, Aceves staked an early and solid claim for his 2016 campaign with October kick-off event showing strong backing.

Aceves' campaign website is:

 Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta

Archuleta was the first DDA to announce her candidacy in January 2015. She has approached the task of traveling the campaign trail with the same thoroughness and tenacity that established her reputation as an experienced and seasoned prosecutor, scoring the kind of support and endorsement needed for an effective campaign. Currently serving as a Trial Deputy in the White Collar Crime Division, Archuleta's previous experience in Hardcore Gangs, Family Violence and the Stalking and Threat Assessment Team evinces a depth of experience in her 25 years with the DA's Office that makes her a formidable candidate. Archulata's campaign is managed by David Gould who is widely recognized as the leading expert on successful judicial campaigns.

Archuleta's campaign website is:
Like her on Facebook at:

 Deputy District Attorney David Berger

Berger announced his campaign the day after Archuleta and, as the Met News reported, has similarly retained David Gould as his consultant. Like many of the other DDA candidates, Berger is endorsed by District Attorney Jackie Lacey and former District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian. By the time of the 2016 election, Berger will have had 20 years experience at the DA's Office, having started as a Certified Law Clerk and progressing through Salaried Law Clerk to Deputy District Attorney. Berger's prior experience with the DA's Office includes assignments in Gangs, Major Frauds, and Healthcare Fraud. Currently Berger serves as a Calendar and Trial Deputy at the Airport Courthouse, trying violent felonies in the Hon. Judge Elden S. Fox's courtroom. Coincidentally, Berger's first assignment as a DDA was at the Beverly Hills Courthouse as Calendar and Trial Deputy in Judge Fox's courtroom. Judge Fox has also endorsed Berger's candidacy. Controversially, Berger took a brief break from the DA's Office in 2009 to serve at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, returning to the DA's Office for reasons well documented on the Dragnet.

Just to be clear, Berger is "Joe Friday," author of this blog.                             

Berger's campaign website is :
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Susan Jung-Townsend

Jung-Townsend launched her campaign in June 2015, also managed by David Gould. A 17 year veteran of the DA's Office, Jung-Townsend currently serves as a Trial Deputy in the Auto Insurance Fraud Division of the White Collar Crime Division. A well-respected and accomplished prosecutor, Jung-Townsend has an impressive list of endorsements to support a strong campaign.

Jung-Townsend's campaign website is :
Like her on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Philip Marshall

Marshall recently launched his campaign and has secured the services of David Gould as manager. An 18 year veteran of the DA's Office, Marshall currently serves as a Trial Deputy in the Major Narcotics Division, listing prior experience prosecuting serious and violent felonies on his campaign website. Marshall will kick-off his fundraising at 5pm on January 21, 2016 at Justice Urban Tavern in Downtown Los Angeles.

Marshall's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Taly Peretz

Peretz, an early announcer along with Archuleta and Berger,  also secured David Gould to manage her campaign. A 16 year veteran of the DA's Office, Peretz currently serves in the elite Hardcore Gang Division having prosecuted over 70 jury trials.

Peretz's campaign website is:

Deputy District Attorney Javier Perez

Perez recently launched his campaign and has also secured the services of David Gould as manager. With over 25 years experience at the DA's Office, Perez currently serves as Deputy In Charge at the West Covina Courthouse - probably the busiest courthouse in the County of Los Angeles, excluding the Downtown Criminal Justice Center. Perez's prior prosecutorial experience is extensive having served in Environmental Crimes, Gangs, and Major Narcotics.

Perez's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner

Schreiner, like Aceves, first ran for robes in 2014, but was unlucky to find himself in a bitterly fought 3-way battle for Office No. 87, ultimately losing out in the Primary Election to rivals attorney Andrew Stein and Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego. Griego subsequently won the November run-off election and currently sits as Judge of the Superior Court  at Inglewood.

As we go to press, Schreiner's "rumored to be running" status changed to "running" when we learned that he has filed papers for the 2016 elections and recently held a kick-off event. Based on the phone number on file at the Secretary of State's website, it appears that Schreiner has retained David Gould as his campaign manager. A 27 year veteran of the DA's Office, Schreiner currently serves as Calendar and Trial Deputy at the Norwalk Courthouse. Unless Schreiner is unlucky to find himself in again in a battle with opponents with questionable ballot designations, Schreiner should be a strong candidate.

Schreiner's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stodel

Stodel is another recent candidate for Judge of the Superior Court, and has also secured the services of David Gould as campaign manager. A 16 year veteran of the DA's Office, Stodel currently serves as a Trial Deputy in the White Collar Crime Division, listing extensive prior experience in Gangs, Child Molestation and violent crimes. In 2009 Stodel was the recipient of  the prestigious "Deputy District Attorney of the Month" award for his successful prosecutions of three individuals who brutally tortured and murdered a man in the San Fernando Valley.

Stodel's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

That's 9 DDAs confirmed to be running, in case you've lost count. Also rumored to be about to be running are Deputy District Attorneys Alfred Coletta, and perhaps, Helen Kim.

The 6 known non-Deputy District Attorney candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Attorney Naser Khoury

Khoury, a well-known and respected criminal defense attorney, announced his campaign in September 2015. A former Deputy District Attorney, before entering private practice, Khoury has been campaigning aggressively and appears to be using social media effectively to mount his challenge.

Khoury's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy City Attorney Sydne S. Michel

Sydne S. Michel is a Senior Deputy at the Redondo Beach City Attorney's Office. The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise first mentioned Michel's candidacy in their August 31, 2015 "End of the Month" column. Since then Michel has filed papers for her candidacy. As yet we have not been able to locate a campaign website for her.

Deputy Attorney General Kim Nguyen

Ngyuen is a "Deputy Attorney General responsible for representing constitutional officers and statewide agencies in lawsuits involving election law challenges, constitutional challenges, state mandates, and the State’s General Fund," according to her campaign website. She has been an attorney for 15 years and since filing papers in July 2015, has drawn wide support for her campaign garnering an impressive list of endorsements, most notably including those of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and fellow Harvard graduate Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. Nguyen's campaign disclosure statement lists Steve Kaufman as her Treasurer, however, it is believed that the handiwork of revered political consultant Parke Skelton's organization is steering the campaign. Nguyen's political connections make her a "formidable opponent" according to those in the know, but also poses the question; with such powerful connections, why is she not being considered for appointment by Governor Brown?

Nguyen's campaign website is:

Attorney Andrew Stein

(Stein's campaign website has been edited to include a photo of the candidate)

Stein clashed with Schreiner and Greigo for Office No 87 in 2014, winning a place in the run-off, but ultimately losing out to Griego after Stein's creative "Gang Homicide Attorney" ballot designation was successfully challenged by Griego ahead of the run-off.

Stein's Facebook page states he is set on another run in the 2016 race, and his 2014 campaign website states "We will be back soon," so we expect to see Stein filing papers in the near future. Stein has been an attorney for 37 years and is a former Criminal Bar Association President, a significant factor likely to garner him substantial support for his campaign.

Stein's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Attorney Aaron Weissman

Weissman launched his campaign in March 2015, and appears to be running his own campaign with the assistance of Crummitt & Associates to handle political reporting requirements. According to his campaign website, he has been an attorney for 34 years and lists experience as Judge Pro Tem in addition to a private practice spanning "criminal, real estate, landlord-tenant, personal injury, probate, workers’ compensation and family law matters."

Weissman's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

 Superior Court Commissioner Cynthia Zuzga

Zuzga's run for robes was announced in the Met News in September 2015. Prior to becoming a Commissioner, Zuzga was a respected 22 year veteran of the DA's Office, something that has garnered her the endorsement of her former boss, retired Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. Zuzga has retained David Gould as her campaign consultant.

Zuzga's campaign website is: 
Like her on Facebook at:

LA County Deputy District Attorneys did well in the 2014 elections, which doubtless explains why so many have made the early decision to launch their campaigns. Another reason, of course, is that the appointment route appears to be futile for LA County DDAs; Governor Brown has been demonstrably reluctant to appoint DDAs in LA County; Brown recently announced the appointment of 7 Superior Court Judges in LA County, not one was a Deputy District Attorney. But the apparent ease at which many DDAs won their seats on the Superior Court in 2014 may be misleading. Open seats may be hard to find, resulting in the awkwardness of DDAs running against each other. Added to the mix is the coincidence of the Presidential Primary, which will likely see less attention being paid to Judicial elections in the media.

If the field seems crowded now, expect the number of candidates to grow as the February 2016 filing period approaches. Zuzga is, thus far, the only Superior Court Commissioner to have announced her candidacy, however, if past experience is anything to go by, there will be others. Deputy City Attorneys too, are likely to field campaigns, doubtless encouraged by Judge Griego's success.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

LADA Confidential Launches

It seems that the recent silence of the Dragnet has left many without a sounding board to air their views. Whether it was the DA Election, the ADDA's struggle to free itself from the 'old guard,' or the dual disasters of AB109 and Prop 47, DDAs clearly had opinions. Sometimes those opinions were aired on the Dragnet, more often than not, many failed to see the light of day due to 'moderation.'

DDA Michael Fern has take the bold step to give DDAs a place to air their views, share information, and communicate. Fern has launched

Fern, who revamped the ADDA's website, promises a secure environment for DDAs (I-IV only), where a free exchange of news and views can take place. Use of the website is free, but subject to terms and conditions that users can view prior to joining.

DDAs can sign up for a user account at Let the posting begin!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Life After AFSCME - ADDA excels free from AFSCME

It's been just over three months since the Association of Deputy District Attorneys' historic vote to fire AFSCME; the 'big labor little support' organization that had redefined the the word 'underperformance' by providing nothing in return for three years of members' dues.

The news that rocked and shocked; big labor group AFSCME given its marching orders
by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.
The organized labor world was shocked when news of the overwhelming rejection of AFSCME became known. Rarely, if ever, does a David beat a big labor Goliath but that's what happened on January 7, 2015. 

ADDA President Marc Debbaudt selected an independent CPA firm to conduct
the count of members' votes, preventing accusations of voting fraud.
When the votes were counted, 143 deputy district attorneys voted to kick out AFSCME, with only 65 voting to remain tithed. They were, perhaps foolishly persuaded by AFSCME's promises of better pay, better pensions, and generally the same bunch of empty promises that has been the 'AFSCME experience' for both the ADDA and other labor groups who found themselves caught in the AFSCME trap - all talk and no action, except for AFSCME's vampire-like addiction to members' dues.

The skeptics and naysayers who were, perhaps, amongst the 65 who voted to remain affiliated with AFSCME pointed to the dire consequences of firing AFSCME; the ADDA would be unable to manage the complicated business of negotiating working conditions, maintaining communications, and representing members with grievances.

Three months later and the naysayers are, perhaps, having a hard time adjusting to the reality of life after AFSCME. The ADDA is stronger, more active and certainly more communicative than it was under AFSCME's regime. Long gone is the bullshit-ridden diatribe that characterized the ADDA under its former woefully inadequate 'leadership' - the Steve Ipsen - Hyatt Seligman era when the ADDA seemed to serve only the interests of a few.

That the ADDA has taken a new direction and has actually achieved more in three month than in three years of AFSCME is not altogether surprising given AFSCME's appalling track record. Let's not forget that under AFSCME over $1m in members' dues were seemingly sucked into a black hole. AFSCME's promises of better pay and working conditions were always just around the corner, and all the ADDA had to show for the money was a photocopier, a monthly meeting place and (admittedly superior) sandwiches.

Worse, while held hostage under AFSCME's jackboot, the ADDA - a law enforcement oriented organization, had to suffer the indignity of being associated with AFSCME's foolish and politically motivated support for Proposition 47, the voter initiative that many believe will increase crime in Los Angeles even more that Governor Brown's so-called realignment (AB109) that is is largely responsible for 2014's 14.3% increase in violent crime. In one of AFSCME's many broken promises, AFSCME had undertaken not to involve itself in political campaigns that did not have a labor-related issue. Despite that promise, and despite the ADDA's open opposition to Prop 47, AFSCME supported Prop 47 - a something that has no labor-related objective, and is by any analysis a threat to public safety.

If AFSCME's public safety betrayal wasn't bad enough, at least it was overt. But the Dragnet exposed a covert AFSCME betrayal in October 2014, when it became known that AFSCME falsely represented that the ADDA supported an attempt to poach members represented by the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA) at a secret meeting. One of the people AFSCME sent to that secret meeting was Tris Carpenter. He was the ADDA's 'business representative,' supplied by AFSCME, with his salary paid for by ADDA member dues. Yet Carpenter attended this secret meeting without the permission, consent, or knowledge of the ADDA. His goal at this secret meeting was to try to convince PPOA members that AFSCME could do a better job representing them. A clear case of poaching, and laughably false given the experience the ADDA had with AFSCME.

ADDA President Marc Debbaudt called out AFSCME for improperly using
its 'business representative' Tris Carpenter to misrepresent ADDA support for AFSCME

The horror story that was three years of AFSCME's expensive, unrepresentative and duplicitous 'affiliation' ended on January 7, 2015. That it ended was largely due to the efforts of ADDA President Marc Debbaudt, who had the courage and commitment to stand up to AFSCME.

Since dumping AFSCME, Debbaudt has proven that there is life after AFSCME, and that it's a better, more representative and more effective life than the expensive, underperforming empty-promise ridden AFSCME experience. Today, ADDA members receive a weekly bulletin of matters effecting their interests, and monthly newsletter from the ADDA directly addressing matters of concern. A professional lobbyist has been retained to assist the ADDA in the next round of negotiations with the County over pay and work conditions, and an experienced labor lawfirm has been retained to represent members with grievances.

All in all, even the naysayers have to admit that since dumping AFSCME, the ADDA has become far  more representative of its members interests and concerns. Its leadership appears to be dedicated to the interests of its members and not the interests of it leaders. The trust that was lost under the Ipsen-Seligman-AFSCME era is returning, and slowly but surely, the ADDA is becoming the organization that is was intended to be; one that has the interests of Deputy District Attorneys first and foremost.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Trutanich in Slip & Fall Nightmare - A Legacy of City Officials' Abuse of Toll Roads?

Former City Attorney Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich has kept a low profile since exiting the Los Angeles political scene in 2013. He is an occasional guest on KABC 790AM's popular Peter Tilden Show where he recently declared himself to be "a better lawyer than a politician."  

On Monday, February 2, 201, the Peter Tilden Show moved up in KABC's estimation and was given the more prestigious time slot 6-10PM, and Tilden received a surprise call from Trutanich.

Although Trutanich originally called to congratulate Tilden on his promotion, the conversation quickly switched to what can only be described as a Slip and Fall Nightmare.

Trutanich related how, in November 2014, he tripped and fell on the curb at Figueroa St. and 5th in downtown Los Angeles. Trutanich said he "cracked his hip but didn't know it," X-Rays apparently did not reveal the injury. The pain must have continued because Trutanich said he underwent hip surgery on January 21, 2015, returning home two days later.

The following day, Saturday, Trutanich went for a "one hour walk," after which he showered. It was then that the nightmare began. While in the shower he said his "hip became displaced" and was just "hanging there," rendering him unable to put his foot down.

Trutanich said he went into "shock and atrial fibrillation," while paramedics rushed him to the ER. It was there that the nightmare got worse. His ambulance became bogged down in Saturday afternoon gridlocked freeway traffic; "Kings Hockey Traffic" as he described it.

The freeway toll lanes were apparently wide open, but as Trutanich lay in the ambulance watching the monitor recording his heart rate reaching 198 beats per minute, the paramedics refused to use the toll lane, saying a law prohibited them from doing so. "I'll pay for the ticket," Trutanich says he told the paramedics, but to no avail, they said they "couldn't do it" he said. Trutanich made it clear that he had no criticism of the paramedics, crediting them for "saving his life."

"Did you know," Trutanich told KABC listeners, "and I didn't know this, as a City Attorney of LA, I found this astounding, that when the Los Angeles paramedics are running the freeway, going Code 3, to a hospital, they cannot take the toll road because it is not allowed under state law." he said.

"It's the most asinine thing I've ever heard in my life," Tilden said. Trutanich said that it was "something that should be looked into by the City Council."

The rule preventing emergency service vehicles from using toll roads certainly seems illogical. Most people in Trutanich's situation would surely be horrified to find their life-saving dash to hospital delayed even for a minute by this rule. One reason for the rule could be past abuse of toll roads by elected officials.

In 2013 CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein broke the story of scandalous abuse of toll roads by city officials, including embattled City Councilmember Jose Huizar. In 2013, Huizar's taxpayer supplied hybrid SUV was photographed on three separate occasions using toll roads without paying the toll.

Goldstein showed photos of Huizar's SUV "blowing through the toll road" without a transponder, and exhibited records showing Huizar has neither paid the toll, nor the fine. Huizar claimed that his SUV is used by other members of his staff, but his office was unable to identify the drivers.

Goldstein reports that in the first 6 months that the toll roads had been in operation, as much as $50,000 in unpaid tolls and fines had been racked up by state, city and federal agencies.

So could it be that the LA Paramedics who transported Trutanich to hospital had been 'warned off' using the toll roads because of abuse by city officials?

Oddly, Goldstein reports that emergency vehicles are "exempt from tolls when going to and from an actual emergency."

It's certainly a conundrum. A potentially life-threatening conundrum. If indeed emergency vehicles are exempt from tolls, then why didn't the paramedics who transported Trutanich to hospital know that?

Hopefully, someone will look into this. In the meantime we wish Mr. Trutanich a speedy recovery and offer our thanks for sharing his harrowing experiences and making us aware of this problem.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rick Orlov, Veteran Los Angeles Political Reporter - Dead at 66

With much sadness, we report the passing of Rick Orlov, one of the greatest and most respected political reporters in Los Angeles.

Rick worked for the LA Daily News, and was generally found in and around "the horseshoe" - the inner sanctum of Los Angeles City Hall. Rick privately fought a battle with diabetes, but never let it interfere with his work.

Remarkably, when a certain politician felt aggrieved by something Rick had written and insisted on a 'face to face' meeting, Rick responded by saying "I'm having dialysis at the moment, so if you want a meeting, you'll have to come here [the dialysis center]."

The politician and his entourage indeed descended on Rick who listened attentively to politician while attached to a dialysis machine. Despite the politician's remonstrations, Rick was unmoved and declined to bend to the politician's will.

Rick was a king amongst princes, and will be sorely missed. RIP Rick Orlov.

Please read Rick's obituary at the Los Angeles Daily News.

Monday, February 2, 2015

District Attoney Jackie Lacey honored at Person of the Year Awards Dinner

The Los Angeles Metropolitan New-Enterprise hosted its 27th 'Persons of the Year' dinner awards at Los Angeles' exclusive California Club, Friday night, and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey topped the list of those honored for their contributions to the legal community.

Metropolitan New Enterprise Co-Publishers Jo-Ann and Roger Grace presented District Attorney Jackie Lacey with the Person of the Year award after Editor Roger Grace expressed some surprise that Lacey had won the race, noting that the Met News had endorsed Lacey's opponent in the 2012 election.  Jo-Anne Grace was less surprised, noting that, notwithstanding the endorsement, Roger had not asked which way she had voted.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey receives the Person of the Year Award
from Met News-Enterprise Co-Publishers Jo-Ann and Roger Grace

In her acceptance speech, Lacey graciously credited her award to the hard work and commitment of the Deputy District Attorneys and support staff at the Office.

DA Jackie Lacey presents Metropolitan News-Enterprise Co-Publishers Jo-Ann and Roger Grace
with the District Attorney's Commendation for their contributions to the legal community.

Lacey, in turn, presented Jo-Ann and Roger Grace with a commendation from District Attorney's Office, recognizing their contributions to the Los Angeles legal community. In accepting the commendation, Met News Editor Roger Grace remarked that the last time he had received a paper from the DA's Office was in 2002; when District Attorney Investigators served a search warrant at the newspaper's premises.  

Los Angeles County Bar Association President Linda Curtis Esq. (left) presented
Attorney L. Ernestine Fields, Sheriff Jim McDonnell and DA Jackie Lacey with awards.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Dependency Court Attorney L. Ernestine Fields joined Lacy in receiving Person of the Year Awards, with Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, the Hon. Carolyn Kuhl, complimenting Lacey for her professionalism, Fields for her commitment, and McDonnell for his integrity.

Many past recipients of the Person of the Year Award were in attendance, including former District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian, who emceed the event.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Shockwaves and Fallout follows AFSCME-ADDA Disaffiliation

On January 7, 2015, the organized labor world received a shock upset; the ADDA succeeded in breaking free from AFSCME, the overwhelming, under-performing and overly-expensive big labor group that promised much, but delivered little.

The shotgun marriage that brought the ADDA under the control of AFSCME was always an embarrassment to DDAs; it was a legacy of the duplicitous self-serving 'leadership' of disgraced former ADDA President Steve Ipsen, who was subsequently fired by the DA's Office for misconduct.

If the marriage was uncomfortable and embarrassing, the divorce has been acrimonious. Upon hearing the results of the vote that kicked AFSCME out, AFSCME officials retaliated by obstructing and preventing the ADDA Board from conducting any further business on AFSCME premises.

The following day, ADDA President Marc Debbaudt sought to update the ADDA website,, only to find that the AFSCME-supplied 'business representative' who is responsible for such things, was "out of the office until February 2, 2015." As we go to press, the ADDA website remains unchanged. Until the ADDA manages to gain control of its website, a series of email messages has informed members of developments.

Hell hath no fury than a big labor group scorned, it seems, and AFSCME is apparently no exception. The loss of the ADDA's $340k annual 'union dues' is, perhaps, not the main reason for AFSCME's shabby conduct and acrimony.

It seems more likely that the failure by AFSCME's local officials to prevent the ADDA from breaking free has caused major embarrassment to the Washington DC based national union. Sources suggest the AFSCME may be bracing themselves for more disaffiliation/decertification moves others who are less than satisfied with AFSCME and will view the ADDA breakaway as a signal for similar action.

Meanwhile at the ADDA, Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath who fronted the pro-AFSCME movement, tendered his resignation on January 14, 2015. Directors Stuart Lytton and Loren Naiman have also resigned, leaving three positions open on the ADDA Board. With many of the Ipsen-era old guard now gone, the opportunity exists to reshape the ADDA into being more representative of its members' interests and concerns. Those interested in serving are invited to contact ADDA President Marc Debbaudt by email the address of which appears in the comments section.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

ADDA Kicks Out AFSCME - Big Labor Group "Reeling" In Defeat

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys delivered a crushing and resounding blow to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), when ADDA members voted 143 to 65, to oust the under-performing, expensive and corruption-tainted big labor group. AFSCME had promised much, but delivered little in return for the $1M in members dues that had been paid over the past three years.

Participation in ADDA votes has traditionally been low, but when independent CPA firm Haynie & Co announced that 208 ballots had been received in the disaffiliation election, an audible gasp filled the meeting room at AFSCME headquarters.

Representatives from CPA firm Haynie & Co. announced that 208 ballots had been received
before the ballots were verified and counted
 Of the 396 ADDA members, 53.25% had voted, a participation level previously unheard of. It was a sign that members were motivated, and that was bad news for AFSCME who, like most unions, thrive only when member participation is low.

When the ballots were counted, the overwhelming majority vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME (almost 70%) was not only unimpeachable, but a crushing blow to embattled AFSCME Executive Director Cheryl Parisi, who faces a humiliating career setback as a result of loosing her grip over the ADDA. It is a rainy day in hell when a big labor union is trounced to defeat, and ADDA President Marc Debbaudt deserves the credit for bravely leading the charge against "the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members."

The counting of the ballots was not without some drama. ADDA Executive Vice President Jeff McGrath, who supported remaining under the heel of AFSCME, tried to halt the count by insisting that signatures on envelopes containing the ballots be verified before the ballots could be counted. ADDA Vice President Michele Hanisee promptly dismissed McGrath's challenge and ordered the count continue upon the assurance that it was the ballots that were to verified, not the envelopes.

McGrath, however, was not satisfied and insisted that the vote was not "secret." Indeed, as Haynie & Co conducted the vote, McGrath was conducting his own count, using a list of ballot numbers and recording which ballot numbers had voted to "withdraw" (i.e. disaffiliate from AFSCME) or "stay" with AFSCME. McGrath was somehow able to determine members' identities by the ballot numbers, and is currently the only ADDA Board Member who has a list of members' names, and how they voted. ADDA President Marc Debbaudt commented that if the vote was not "secret," it was McGrath who had violated the secrecy requirement, not the CPA firm.

It is unknown whether McGrath will be required to surrender the list as the ADDA was unable to conduct any further proceedings inside AFSCME headquarters. The ADDA Board were due to discuss how to handle the McGrath situation in an Executive Session where the vote was also to be ratified. However, AFSCME promptly expelled the ADDA Board from AFSCME premises; a move that was not only childish, but futile, as it is understood that the Board convened at a local restaurant to conduct their remaining business.

The ADDA's decision to dump AFSCME is unlikely to face any legal challenge. The magnitude of the margin of victory and the high level of voter participation dispels any suggestion that the "non secrecy" of the vote deterred full participation - an argument often cynically used to by union activists to undermine and obfuscate what should be a democratic process.

Some might argue that the employment of an independent firm of CPAs actually encouraged voter participation, because many DDAs might  have been deterred from voting their conscience if AFSCME had been allowed to conduct the ballot count. Other unions keen to rid themselves of affiliation from AFSCME, will likely follow the ADDA's lead in using independent CPAs to conduct their elections.

If AFSCME was unsurprisingly less that gracious in defeat, McGrath had the decency to issue an email message acknowledging defeat.

As a result of the vote to dump AFSCME, a new era dawns on the ADDA. The specter of disgraced former ADDA Presidents Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman self-interested leadership would seem to be well and truly exorcised, and the enforced, unwelcome and unholy alliance with anti-public safety big labor groups is thankfully over.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Disaffiliation Vote - Live Update

The counting of ballots in the ADDA disaffiliation vote has started at AFSCME headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. 

According to the CPA firm hired specifically for the election, 208 ballots have been received.

The task of verifying the ballots is underway, and we will publish the results as soon as possible.

The ballots have been verified and counting has commenced. 52.25% of ADDA members cast votes, an exceptionally high turnout that likely favors Debbaudt's disaffiliation campaign. 

7:55pm The process of counting the ballots is quite simple and transparent. The CPA looks at the verified ballot and announces whether it's a vote to "withdraw" or "stay." So far approximately half the ballots have been counted, and it looks like the word "withdraw" is heard twice as often as "stay" suggesting a landslide for disaffiliation.  

8:05pm. ADDA votes to disaffiliate! 
Of 208 votes cast, 143 were for disaffiliation and 65 were to remain with AFSCME. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Which Way ADDA? Pt 10 Countdown to Disaffiliation

With no official figures being released as to how many ballots have been submitted by ADDA members for the all-important decision on whether to end the ADDA's troubled relationship with big labor group AFSCME, fears mount that a low turnout will favor retention of AFSCME. The deadline for ballots to be counted is 5pm on Wednesday January 7, 2015. That effectively means that if DDAs do not mail their ballots by Monday night, January 5, they will have no say in which way ADDA?

 In the Dragnet's opinion, a correctly completed ballot should look like this:

The vote to disaffiliate from AFSCME is probably the most significant vote in the ADDA's history since the appallingly low voter participation in the vote to join AFSCME three years ago. A vote to disaffiliate offers DDAs a chance not only to be independent, but to send a powerful message to "big labor" groups like AFSCME. That message is a simple one: You may crave DDAs membership dues and bragging rights over representing a respectable law enforcement oriented organization, but if you abandon promises, if you renege on agreements, and if you deliver piss-poor performance, there is a price. Disaffiliation.

Since giving AFSCME over $1M in member dues, AFSCME has failed miserably. It was incapable of delivering any results in terms of pay increases, and simply rolled over and accepted the offer that was made to all LA County employees, regardless of whether they were represented by unions or not. DDAs got the same cost of living increase as Public Defenders, yet the PDs got that increase without having to give $1M to a big labor group like AFSCME.

AFSCME also ignored the values and interests of DDAs with their foolhardy and politically motivated support for Prop 47, despite assurances that AFSCME would not become involved in a political campaign that "does not have a labor related impact." There is no labor related impact arising from Prop 47.

Given the evidence that AFSCME is philosophically and ethically wholly unfit to represent DDAs, the most troubling aspect of the disaffiliation vote is the large number of DDAs who do not vote. Apathy is AFSCME's best friend in this vote, and while some DDAs have doubtless been fooled by promises from AFSCME to improve pay and pensions, others realize that the results of the past three years speak for themselves. A vote to stay with AFSCME is tantamount to doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Worse, if the disaffiliation vote fails, DDAs will remain locked with AFSCME in perpetuity. There will not be another opportunity to leave. As an independent organization, the ADDA will be able to choose whether to remain independent or align with another organizations with views, ethics and values more akin with law enforcement.

If you have not already voted, do so. If you know anyone who is on the fence, urge them to vote.
Vote to disaffiliate before it's too late.