The mission of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) is to promote justice by enhancing prosecutorial excellence. To that end, CDAA is THE source of continuing legal education and legislative advocacy for its membership. In addition to offering seminars, publications, and extensive online tools, CDAA serves as a forum for the exchange of information and innovation in the criminal justice field.
CDAA staff tracks between 200 and 400 bills per year. This is in addition to the work done related to the annual adoption of the state budget.Legislation Committee is charged with developing CDAA’s legislative advocacy program. This committee determines CDAA’s legislative priorities by selecting bills to sponsor and adopting positions on pending legislation. The committee is comprised of approximately 35 ranging expertise, and meets at both CDAA annual conferences…
CDAA’s mission is to promote justice while enhancing prosecutorial excellence. Listservs What’s New Committees Autobrief 20 Case Law Summaries and AG Opinions The Inquisitive Prosecutor Guides 2015 Prosecutors Directory Prosecutors Encyclopedia Jury Instructions Expert Witness Project Articles of Interest for…
The California District Attorneys Association has been providing legal publications to prosecutors, law enforcement, and other allied administration-of-justice professionals for more than 30 years. Today, with the assistance of grant funds and invaluable volunteers, CDAA’s Publications Department produces topical periodicals, specialized newsletters, trial practice manuals, monographs, and handbooks. To purchase publications from the CDAA Store, click here….
Due to COVID-19, CDAA is not offering any live trainings and events at this time, but we are offering a wide-range of distance learning options for participatory MCLE credit. These trainings are posted on our training registration page at https://registrations.cdaa.org/CalDA/Distance_Learning.aspx and more are added regularly. Note: These Distance Learning classes are NOT part of our already scheduled Wednesday Webinars (which are continuing as planned) and,…
The primary role of the District Attorney is to protect the community he or she is elected to serve. District Attorneys represent the public and endeavor to improve public safety by prosecuting those who threaten the well-being of the community and its citizens by breaking the law. Ultimately, a DA strives to improve the community he or she represents by making it a better place to live for everyone. The District Attorney’s functions include: Protecting the…
On January 12, 2021,CDAA announced it will file an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. CDAA’s actions are in response to a request from the ADDA, the union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors, which asked CDAA to weigh in on the directives. CDAA responded with an open ethics letter to the ADDA expressing grave concern regarding some of the new Los Angeles County District Attorney’s policies, including one that compels prosecutors to read a blanket statement in court which, in some cases, violates the state’s constitutional protection of crime victims. Click HERE to read the brief filed in Los Angeles County Superior County on January 26, 2021.
The California District Attorneys Association has been providing legal publications to prosecutors, law enforcement, and other allied administration-of-justice professionals for more than 30 years. Today, with the assistance of grant funds and invaluable volunteers, CDAA’s Publications Department produces topical periodicals, specialized newsletters, trial practice manuals, monographs, and handbooks.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Gascón Defends Law That Puts Guns in the Hands of Criminals, While Los Angeles Descends Into Gun Violence
On February 26, 2021, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón defended a law that puts guns in the hands of criminals at the exact moment that Los Angeles County is descending into gun violence.
AB 3234, which was passed last year by the California Legislature, created a diversion program allowing criminals—including those who bring guns to schools or to the Capitol—to continue to own or possess guns.
“It’s a reckless law, but yesterday, George Gascón defended it,” said Vern Pierson, President of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), an organization that represents almost all of the elected district attorneys in California and is committed to reforms, but not to the decriminalization of dangerous crimes.
Meanwhile, gun violence in Los Angeles is soaring. Murders in Los Angeles County are up 136.4% and shootings are up 261.5%. Attacks on police officers are up 300% from January 1 through January 18, 2021 when compared to the same time period in 2020. The chance of becoming a victim of any firearm crime (violent or property) in Los Angeles is now 1 in 33.
On this past Wednesday, February 24, 2021, pop icon Lady Gaga’s dog walker was brutally shot in Hollywood while walking Lady Gaga’s two dogs. She is now offering a $500,000, “no questions asked” reward for their safe return. But Gascón has implemented new policies that remove long-standing deterrents to criminals for using guns during the commission of crimes. “Under Gascón’s policies, even if the assailants in this case are captured, they will face up to 20 years less time in prison for the crime than they otherwise would have,” said Pierson.
With the reckless removal of gun crime deterrents, it is no surprise that gun crimes under Gascón are soaring. Today, CDAA calls on Gascón to abandon his reckless, soft-on-gun-crime policies. “The results of the Gascón experiment are in,” said Greg Totten, CDAA’s Chief Executive Officer, “and it’s no surprise that when you remove consequences for committing crimes with guns—gun crimes soar, and that’s exactly what’s happening Los Angeles.”
Truth, Guns, and Politics
Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager recently published a rambling attack against this organization that contained numerous false statements. Rather than defending her history of voting for weaker gun laws, she has falsely attacked CDAA, which is leading the fight to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. So let’s set the record straight.
Last year, CDAA’s own Board of Directors discovered concerns with a financial allocation issue in our accounting. When this issue came to light, we immediately stopped the allocation practice and have already begun repaying the funds. Despite our best efforts to ensure proper accounting, this allocation practice had not been noticed in our annual audit. So our Board immediately ordered an outside audit to determine the extent of the problem. We promptly solicited bids and began the audit as soon as we had obtained an outside accounting firm.
We disclosed the findings of the outside audit on this very website in December, weeks before the issue was reported by the press. We made this disclosure in the interest of transparency, despite the fact that we are not a public agency, and therefore had no legal obligation to do so. Nothing in the audit found misappropriation of funds as Assemblywoman Kamlager repeatedly and falsely claims.
But Ms. Kamlager did not stop there with her dishonest attacks against this organization. Instead, she went on to also falsely represent our record on criminal justice issues. The truth is that CDAA and Ms. Kamlager have very different views about how to protect Californians. One example is gun safety. CDAA has consistently advocated to keep guns away from criminals. But just last year, Ms. Kamlager voted repeatedly to put guns in the hands of criminals. That bill, AB 3234 created a diversion program allowing even criminals who brought guns to schools or to the Capitol to continue to own or possess guns.
Meanwhile, gun violence in Ms. Kamlager’s own home town of Los Angeles is soaring. Los Angeles saw the most murders last year in a decade. Victims shot in South Los Angeles are up 742% compared to last year. And gun possession arrests rose 70% in the last 6 months of 2020.
Sydney Kamlager has voted time and again to weaken gun laws. And now with gun crimes soaring in her own backyard, she’s trying to change the subject by attacking the leading organization advocating against the gun violence that she is making worse. If there’s one lesson we’ve all learned about politics over these last few years, it’s that truth matters. Californians deserve better than politicians like Sydney Kamlager who won’t tell the truth. Call her at (310) 641-5410 and tell her to stop putting guns in the hands of criminals.
Paid for by California District Attorneys Association Political Action Committee. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.
CDAA Will File Amicus Brief Supporting Lawsuit Against Los Angeles County District Attorney
The Association has grave concerns that some of the policies established by George Gascón violate the state’s constitutional protection of crime victims
January 12, 2021—The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) announced today it will file an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.
CDAA’s actions are in response to a request from the ADDA, the union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors, which asked CDAA to weigh in on the directives.
CDAA responded with an open ethics letter to the ADDA expressing grave concern regarding some of the new Los Angeles County District Attorney’s policies, including one that compels prosecutors to read a blanket statement in court which, in some cases, violates the state’s constitutional protection of crime victims.
New sentencing guidelines, issued by Gascón on his first day in office, force Los Angeles County prosecutors to read a statement in court that asks for the removal of certain sentencing enhancements, such as possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
“By prohibiting the gun enhancement, this new policy seeks to punish a gun-wielding robber the same as a defendant who snatches a purse from a victim’s shoulder,” CDAA said in its letter.
CDAA is a training and advocacy group for state prosecutors that Mr. Gascón was a member of when he served as San Francisco District Attorney, and it rarely addresses policy differences among elected District Attorneys. As the letter notes, however, CDAA believes it must take a position when policies implemented by an individual District Attorney go beyond the exercise of discretion and contravene both the state constitution and prosecutor ethics.
“The District Attorney does not possess the legal power to dispense with his deputies’ constitutional and statutory obligations to crime victims or the duty of candor by imposing a mandate to read a script,” said CDAA president Vern Pierson.
The amicus brief will be filed later this month in accordance with the superior court deadlines and procedures.
Statement from CDAA President Vern Pierson
January 7, 2021—Similar to many of the riots we saw earlier this year that began as peaceful protests, the violent mob that entered the U.S. Capitol building yesterday represents an attack on our most venerable and cherished institutions. The violence we have witnessed from these mobs should be a calling to all of us. A calling to fortify against this attack on the rule of law. A calling to come together as a nation to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
On January 27, 1838, a 28-year-old Abraham Lincoln gave a speech describing America’s greatest danger: the “mobcratic spirit.” This speech is known as the Lyceum Address. In words that ring far too familiar today, he said, “I hope I am over wary; but … there is, even now, something of ill-omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgement of courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice ….” He warned that “if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property are held by no better tenure then the caprice of the mob …” then this government cannot last.
I have spent my entire 30-year career in law enforcement, as a deputy district attorney, a deputy attorney general, and since 2006 as the elected district attorney of El Dorado County. It saddens me to see the rule of law get weaker and weaker every day.
As a member of law enforcement, a veteran, a grandfather, father, husband, and as an American, I strongly condemn the attack on the U.S. Capitol. As President of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), I call on all of us in law enforcement and, frankly, to all citizens, to support the rule of law and assist federal, state, and local law enforcement in maintaining order, supporting the constitutional right to peaceful protests, and seeking ways to reduce the disregard for law that seems to pervade our country.
Author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “The first person who throws the rock is a lot more radical than the hundredth person. By the time the riot has attracted a hundred people, you don’t have to be nearly as much a daredevil or a hothead or committed to any of those things to want to engage in a riot.”
It seems that as a society, throwing that rock has become more and more common, and thus easier and easier. We see it on social media chat pages, in the media, and even amongst lifelong friends. The anger is rising, the passion is intensifying, the rock throwing has become harder, and more dangerous.
I end this message as President Lincoln ended the Lyceum Address: “There is no grievance that is fit object of redress by mob law.”
CDAA Environmental & Worker Safety Audit Executive Summary
December 22, 2020—Earlier this year, the CDAA Board of Directors became aware of an internal accounting management practice that negatively impacted certain funds dedicated to environmental protection and worker safety. In response, CDAA commissioned a full and independent forensic financial audit of the programs by the outside accounting firm of Hemming Morse, LLP. The audit revealed a longstanding past financial practice, beginning in 2004, which resulted in the borrowing of certain restricted funds to support general functions of the organization. While the audit revealed no evidence of intentional malfeasance, it did identify a pattern that violated best practices and accepted accounting standards for restricted purpose funds.
- CDAA concurs with the audit findings.
- Upon learning of the issue this year, the CDAA Board took the following actions: (1) acknowledged the improper borrowing of restricted funding and immediately halted this practice; (2) alerted affected prosecutors in the environmental community; (3) initiated a plan for repayment of the borrowed funds; (4) commissioned a complete forensic audit by a highly respected independent firm; and (5) began the process of ensuring complete fidelity in the management of all restricted funds going forward.
- To assist the auditors, the CDAA Board also assigned several veteran environmental and worker safety prosecutors to review all available settlements to identity those that involved restricted funds. All current CDAA staff members fully cooperated with the auditors.
- The forensic audit cited numerous communications and settlement documents from District Attorneys and their offices stating that certain settlements provided to CDAA were intended to be restricted in use.
- The forensic audit also found that independent annual financial audits performed for CDAA did not meet industry standards in the audit evidence verification process. CDAA is further investigating its options on this issue.
- Notwithstanding the issues identified in this audit, the environmental programs overseen by CDAA have provided unhindered environmental protection and worker safety across California for over two decades and CDAA has spent nearly $19 million in support of the programs.
For more information, please contact CDAA President Vern Pierson at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW!!! 2020 Legislative Digest
CDAA is once again pleased to present its annual Legislative Digest. Thanks to the efforts of Deputy District Attorney Kathy Storton and the support of Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, the 2020 edition is now available. The Legislative Digest is divided by Code, with a description of each of the new and amended sections that will affect prosecutors. Also included in the Digest is a statutory index and a topical index.Click HERE for the 2020 Legislative Digest.
2020 CDAA Excellence in Innovation Awards
At the 2020 Winter Workshop in Rancho Mirage, January 13-17, CDAA recognized 14 programs developed by district attorney's offices as recipients of the CDAA Excellence in Innovation Awards. These awards recognize creative, “out-of-box” programs from district attorney’s offices andother prosecuting agencies that promote justice, public safety, and/or victim advocacy in ways that are innovative, effective, and/or cost-saving. The selection committee looks for programs that are unique, as well as easily replicable by other counties. For details about the winning programs, click HERE.
CDAA Launches Statewide Campaign That Focuses on Bringing Diversity to Prosecutors' Offices
The CDAA Foundation has launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging young people from all backgrounds to consider becoming prosecutors and fostering greater diversity in district attorney’s offices throughout the state.
A new website, https://www.californiaprosecutors.org/, provides tools and resources for those considering a legal career or who currently are attending law school. It includes information on law schools, minority prosecutor associations, internships and jobs.
The website features written and video testimonials from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and deputy district attorneys from throughout the Golden State about why they chose their careers.
The project was the idea of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey who recognized the need for prosecutorial offices to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. District attorney’s offices statewide are involved in the effort.
How Big of an Issue is Elder Abuse in California?
Here in California, Adult Protective Services (APS) receives as many as 10,000 reports of elder and dependent adult abuse per month, and reports are increasing. That’s an estimated 120,000 cases of reported elder and dependent adult abuse PER YEAR in California. What makes this number even more alarming it that for every case of abuse that is reported, four cases go unreported. That’s an astounding 600,000 incidents that were never reported.
For more information, click here.
See the Bills CDAA is Tracking
High Priority Bills – The most important bills on our radar
Active Bills – Those that are either currently moving through the Legislature, or have already been signed
Full Report – The largest report, this contains all bills being tracked by CDAA in the 2018-19 session, including those that have been killed or otherwise put on hold for the year
For each bill, you’ll see a brief description of the issue, the current location of the bill, and CDAA’s position. Once you’re viewing a particular report, clicking on the bill number will take you to a page with links to the language of the bill (including prior versions), all analyses that have been done by legislative committees, and any prior votes in committee or on the floor. Some bills will also have links to attached documents that we have uploaded – primarily letters of support or opposition. Right now that feature is only active on a few bills, but after this legislative year, that function will expand greatly. Clicking on the author’s name will take you to that member’s official website.
Important Information for John R. Justice Award Recipients
The award is exempt from income. Therefore, your student loan servicing agency, like American Education Services (AES), CANNOT receive payment for the award from JRJ or Bureau of Justice (BJA) and then file a 1099 with the IRS. Click here for a copy of a letter from the IRS citing 20 U.S.C. section 1087ee(a)(5): "(5)The amount of a loan, and interest on a loan, which is canceled under this section shall not be considered income for purposes of title 26."