By Elizabeth Marcellino
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure Tuesday, Feb. 23, to ensure that crime victims’ rights remain a priority for the District Attorney’s Office.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger submitted a motion recommending that county lawyers provide an analysis of the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 and related state laws and the county policies that support those laws.
Barger also asked that lawyers review any relevant pending court cases, including one before the California Supreme Court on cash bail.
“Under the California Constitution, victims have the right to have their safety considered throughout the criminal justice process — a responsibility that rests with the district attorney’s office, among other criminal justice entities,” Barger’s motion reads in part. “Proposition 9 was approved by the voters to cement the protections for victims statewide and should remain a top priority for our county.”
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During the supervisors’ board meeting, Barger thanked District Attorney George Gascon for a letter in support of her motion and his team’s work with her staff. She then quoted Gascon’s own words from his special directive 20-12: “Supporting victims in their journey to becoming survivors is fundamental to community safety,” and “the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will pursue a system of parallel justice, where we not only seek legal prosecution of offenders, but also provide support services for victims.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In addition to the legal analysis, Barger also suggested increasing the number of victim advocates providing services, including crisis intervention, counseling referrals, aid in seeking restitution and help navigating the court system.
The call for legal analysis comes as Gascon has moved to dramatically overhaul the county’s criminal justice system through a series of unilaterally imposed “special directives” since taking office in early December.
The policy changes, which include no longer seeking death sentences and abandoning sentencing enhancements that could lead to lifetime imprisonment for all but the most egregious crimes, have drawn fire and legal challenges from Gascon’s own prosecutors and other current and former district attorneys.
In one case involving the killing of two 6-year-old boys by a convicted sex offender, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer moved to charge the defendant in his own jurisdiction in case Los Angeles County dropped the special circumstances allegations. One of the boys lived in and was kidnapped from Orange County.
The defendant in that case, Kenneth Rasmuson, pleaded no contest Monday to two murder counts and is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In other Los Angeles Superior Court cases, judges have denied motions to dismiss sentencing enhancements, ruling that prosecutors have failed to show that dismissal would be in the …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News