The Los Angeles County District Attorney‘s Public Integrity Division is responsible for, among other things, investigating and prosecuting complaints from the public about Brown Act violations. The procedure for doing so is found in Chapter 5 of the Division Manual. This office did a really terrible job under Jackie Lacey which — as you can imagine — is no surprise. People who won’t prosecute actual killers just because they’re cops can’t really be expected to care about protecting the rule of law.
But, sadly, it turns out that things aren’t better under putatively progressive prosecutor George Gascón and Sean Hassett, Gascón’s choice to head up the PID. Hassett, whose moronic blundering performance in a recent corruption case was so incredibly, blindingly, idiotically, amateurish that Judge Kathleen Kennedy publicly rebuked him, stating that he was “just tripping over [his] feet and falling on [his face].” And this is a reasonably accurate description of the incredibly messed-up manner in which Hassett is handling my recent complaint about the Police Commission’s Brown Act violations in relation to their Use of Force Committee.
According to Hassett when I asked him for the status of my six-week-ish-old complaint last Friday This matter was forwarded to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, for their review and consideration.” Which is really upsetting, isn’t it? Obviously this is not the process due to such a complaint. If the facts are as I alleged, and they are, and it can be shown that the City of LA violated the Brown Act in order to conceal facts from the public, which they did, then at least the Police Commissioners are guilty of a misdemeanor. Probably no one’s going to charge them with that, but it’s potentially serious even so. The stakes are high.
And just as obviously the City Attorney advised the Police Commission that they could get away with claiming that the committee isn’t Brown-Act-subject. Why in the world would Hassett think it reasonable to let them see the complaint before acting on it? Especially because to do so violates the procedure that the Manual requires? The steps and resolutions laid out there are very specific and not optional:
- Issue a notice of no violation if the facts as alleged don’t support any other finding. This must be in the form of a written letter to the complainant.
- Ask complainant for more information if the statement of facts is unclear.
- Investigate and issue a notice of no violation found if the facts support this conclusion. Again this result must be communicated to the complainant in writing.
- Review of relevant documentary evidence (if necessary).
- Dialogue with agency, which sounds superficially like what Hassett is up to but it’s not. The handbook says: In situations where the agency is represented by counsel who may have advised the agency at the time of the violation, the handling deputy may wish to contact the agency’s attorney. … The attorney can … provide the agency’s version of the facts … All contact with the agency should be in writing and those writing shall be considered to be public documents.”
- Further investigation if necessary.
- If a violation is found various remedies are available but they all include notifying the complainant in writing.
So what’s going to happen? Well, time will, as always, tell. But while we’re waiting, of course, I filed a complaint against Hassett with … well, I’m not sure who with, so I just emailed it to everyone at the DA’s office whose email I could find in my records. And I suppose time will tell what happens with that as well.