Letters to the Editor: Former prosecutor, criminal defense attorney weigh in on George Gascón’s reforms

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón.
(Michael Macor / San Francisco Chronicle)

To the editor: As a former deputy district attorney, I was appalled and disgusted by your editorial praising Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s unconstitutional and illegal policies that further victimizes crime victims in Los Angeles.

I was a deputy district attorney for 33 years because I wanted to bring justice and comfort to victims and their families who had suffered at the hands of violent criminals. Your editorial extolling Gascón for “remaking” the criminal justice system insults not only these vulnerable victims, but also the courageous prosecutors who are taking a legal and moral stand against him because they have taken an oath to do justice and obey the Constitution and the laws of California, something Gascón and his team have thrown to the wind.

Your editorial was nothing more than pure propaganda. Shame on you.

Rhonda Saunders, Los Angeles



To the editor: As a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles since 1977, I am heartened by Gascón’s sentencing reforms. I could go on about draconian, disproportionate sentences imposed on my clients over the years.

In one case, a young Latino client fell asleep while driving home late at night; his fiancee died. Alcohol was not involved. He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter.

Because this client already had a “strike” for an attempted robbery in which no one was injured, he received a double-digit sentence. The victim’s family members begged the judge in open court not to send the man to prison; ignoring these pleas and following the rote recommendation of the prosecutor, the judge imposed a long sentence, greatly enhanced by his strike.

Eight years later, my client remains in prison as a nonviolent offender.

Victor Salerno, Los Angeles