Reassigned ‘Lifer Unit’ DDA Julianne Walker Debunks Gascòn’s Lies About the Unit’s Closure – Opinion

In a RedState exclusive, my colleague Bob Hoge reported on Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascòn’s sudden closure of the “Lifer Unit.” This Unit was tasked with notifying victims of crime or relatives of victims (VNOK, or “victim’s next of kin”) of their victimizer’s parole hearings. The Lifer Unit incorporated specially trained deputy district attorneys with contractors made up of retirees who have extensive parole experience — historical knowledge and experience that cannot be maintained with the high turnover in D.A.s offices.

Hoge was successful in getting statements on record from Dennis P. Zine and Marc Debbault, former Los Angeles Police Supervisor, City Councilmember, as well former prosecutor Kathleen Cady. However, many Los Angeles County DDAs were scared to speak on record.

We talked to several Deputy District Attorneys, but they refused to give their names. Suffice it to say, they live in terror of the DA’s petty but vicious retributions against those who don’t march to his directives.

Fox News reporter Bill Melugin uploaded the entire letter to his Twitter account. He detailed the dismantling the Lifer Unit. After the RedState exclusive had been published, Julianne Walker, one of the Lifer Unit DDAs who had been “reassigned” responded to Melugin’s thread. She agreed that Melugin could use this information on the record, as she debunks what was outlined by the D.A.’s office.

It’s a revelation!

Bill, this is Julianne Walker. She’s a DDA for the disbanded Lifer Unit. I’ve see [sic] the “response” from Gascon and would like to quickly give you these points:

1. Under DDA Lacey, the Lifer Unit did not shrink to 3 lawyers. Contract employees who were retired and have extensive experience in parole law, were not let go because of County budget deficits.

DDAs were still sent to every parole hearing, but were staffed by “volunteer” DDAs as we have done for many years in the past. Victims who I had prepped and was attending their hearings that first week of Gascon’s inauguration and policy drops barring DDAs from attending the very next day had the rug pulled out from under them. These families were devastated to hear the bad news. Heartbreaking.

Julianne Walker’s tweet to Bill Melugin, 1. Credit: Bill Melugin/Twitter


RedState reports extensively about this issue here, here, and there.

2. Every victim’s family should be given the CDCR registration form at sentencing. This did not take place and does not continue to happen. Even if a family registered 15-20, 25 or more years ago, their information may be out-of-date. CDCR will not make any effort to update the contact information. All responsibility for traumatized victims is on their shoulders and those who care about them. In addition, victims and their families believed that the parole hearing would not take place and that the offender would end up in jail. But changes in the law, done without victims, families and really the entire public’s knowledge have allowed for early parole dates. If the DA’s office doesn’t notify these people who have not registered, or update the info for those that have, CDCR is not telling them. We rarely hear people say they don’t wish to be kept in touch. The typical response is to inquire about the status of parole hearings. And then ask why DDAs aren’t allowed to go. Ask about any information they aren’t allowed to share since Gascon closed our access the CDCR Inmate Files.

As Hoge’s exclusive covered, Kathleen Cady confirmed that Gascòn had indeed blocked this access:

So that victims were not ready for the possible parole hearing, his administration froze DDAs’ access to records from state prisons. Iniguez [Gascon’s chief of staff who was recently busted for public intoxication]DDAs were instructed by. [deputy DAs] VSRs [Victim Services Representatives]Pro bono attorneys are always available for victims, but they cannot refer them to the court. He will not notify victims that the defendant has been released on parole.  These defendants were sentenced to many years of life, or to Life without the Possibility Of Parole. victims didn’t register for notification because they didn’t believe a parole hearing would ever occur…

Walker then goes on to point out the particular cruelty in Gascòn’s handling of victims and their concerns.

Julianne Walker’s tweet to Bill Melugin, 2. Credit: Bill Melugin/Twitter

3. Gascon Administration does not follow a trauma informed strategy. Look at how insensitive this response is to victims and their families. [sic] majority of which are victims of gun violence, to use the term “triggering”. This terminology, which is both offensive and harmful to victims of gun violence, has been pointed out by our Lifer Unit. Yet they keep using it. How can trauma informed be used to withhold information from victims’ families and legal advice of DDAs during the hearing or in preparation for their statements?

This callous behavior Gascòn displays toward the victims and their families has also been well-documented in these pages.

4. Marsy’s Law is very clear in a specific subsection that says the victims and their families have a right to be informed of proceedings, including parole hearings, and that section is NOT limited to “if they request.” I can forward that section, but trying to get to you quickly.

This specific section is found in California Constitution Article I Section 28(b),(b),(7) and 28 (b)(b,(8).

“In order to preserve and protect a victim’s rights to justice and due processA victim is entitled to the following rights

“(7) To All public proceedings are subject to reasonable notice, delinquency proceedings, upon request, Both the prosecutor and the defendant are allowed to be present during parole and other post-conviction releases proceedings..

“(8) To be heard upon request in all proceedings,Any delinquency proceeding involving a post arrest Release decision, plea, sentencing, Post-conviction release decisions or proceedings in which the victim’s right is being challenged.”

Emphases mine.

Julianne Walker’s tweet to Bill Melugin, 3. Credit: Bill Melugin/Twitter

5. The Victim Services Representatives do not have the expertise of lawyers. They are not qualified to explain the law and procedures surrounding parole hearings. These representatives are trained to provide emotional support and other services. Gascon continually puts forth “services” as if he is protecting their “rights” He is not. Gascon is abandoning their Constitution rights. He believes that counseling, as a “band aid”, will compensate for the fact that he has refused to protect them.

I could continue and would be happy to answer your questions.

Julianne Walker

As my colleague Levon Satamian reported, Gascòn is feeling the sting of being under threat of recall and decided to charge the attacker of Olympian Kim Glass. While this is good news for Glass, it is too little, too late for victims and families who continue to suffer under this man’s criminal justice reform nightmare.

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