Judge allows assault case against L.A. district attorney’s husband to proceed
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge allowed the criminal case against the husband of Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to proceed Thursday, dismissing a defense argument that the California attorney general’s office decision to prosecute the case was improper.
The attorney general’s office filed three counts of misdemeanor assault last month against David Lacey, 66, after he pointed a gun at protesters critical of his wife during a March confrontation on the doorstep of the family’s Granada Hills home.
Defense attorney Samuel Tyre had argued the attorney general’s involvement in the case was improper and violated David Lacey’s rights because misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles fall under the jurisdiction of the city attorney’s office.
Los Angeles police presented findings of their investigation to the attorney general’s office because of the conflict presented by the Laceys’ involvement in the case. The charges brought against David Lacey are considered “wobblers” under California law, meaning they can be filed as felonies or misdemeanors.
Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Hunter ruled Thursday that the attorney general’s office did not abuse its discretion to oversee the case, noting that the Lacey family’s involvement complicated the situation and necessitated an outside review to ensure public trust.
David Lacey’s “relationships to the district attorney, the city attorney ... are exactly why the attorney general has this discretion,” Hunter said.
Chief Asst. City Atty. Mary Claire Malidor also submitted a letter to the court in late August supporting the attorney general’s decision to handle the case.
“We are concerned that our office’s involvement in a prosecution of David Lacey could appear biased and reduce public confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the criminal justice system,” Malidor wrote, also noting that City Atty. Mike Feuer has publicly endorsed Lacey in the November election where she is seeking a third term.
On March 2, demonstrators rang the Laceys’ doorbell shortly before 6 a.m. after banging drums and chanting in the street. David Lacey opened the door and aimed a handgun in the direction of three protesters, threatening to shoot them if they didn’t leave his porch.
The protesters, including Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah, were unarmed. Later that morning, Jackie Lacey apologized for her husband’s actions during a hastily called news conference. She has since defended him as having “acted out of genuine concern” because of threats levied at her in the weeks before the incident.
Lacey is a locked in a tough re-election battle with former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón in a race that has been shaped as a test of Southern California’s appetite for criminal justice reform. Protesters have routinely blasted Lacey for her perceived hesitance to charge police officers in controversial shootings. Sheriff’s deputies had blocked the street outside the San Fernando courthouse Thursday morning in anticipation of protesters. No demonstrators appeared.
Tyre said he was disappointed in Hunter’s ruling and is considering asking the Appellate Court to stay the criminal case against David Lacey, who has yet to enter a plea in the case. The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2.
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