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California Democrats urge AG to drop felony charges against ethics investigator

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(The Center Square) – California’s top Democratic lawyers urged Attorney General Rob Bonta to drop 11 felony charges filed against Los Angeles Ethics and Integrity Assistant District Attorney Diana Teran, a top lieutenant of embattled Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon.

The 11 charges are for illegally accessing confidential, “statutorily-protected” law enforcement files in her current role and prior role as Constitutional Policing Advisor at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department while investigating officers for potential misconduct.

“We are writing to express our concern at the recent charges your office filed against Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Diana Teran, and the chilling effect we believe this will have on policies and programs intended to ensure transparency, promote public trust and confidence in law enforcement agencies, and enable agency compliance with constitutional obligations,” wrote the Prosecutors Alliance, a group of prosecutors advocating for progressive criminal justice reform, to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Teran was a key member of the Los Angeles District Attorney office’s resentencing committee, and it’s not clear if she may have used improperly acquired information in the position. The letter also argues “Teran was acting in her official capacity when doing the things you allege she did” to build an internal Brady database. The Brady rule specifies police must “disclose all favorable material evidence on the issue of guilt or punishment possessed by the prosecution team, irrespective of a defense request” to improve police transparency and accountability.”

Gascon and his circle have been at odds with the majority of the district’s Deputy District Attorneys, who have strongly opposed his policies. Teran is described as having ordered prisons to stop sharing prison records with LADA prosecutors in 2021 and preventing prosecutors from attending parole hearings. Teran also ordered law enforcement to stop sending police and probation reports, prosecutors’ statements, or other crime information to parole boards.

“When it comes to discipline, this District Attorney has one set of rules for line deputies and another set of rules for the most loyal sycophants in his inner circle,” said Eric Rose on behalf of the Association of Deputy Attorneys, which represents Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys, to The Center Square. “Before she was charged with 11 felonies, Teran supervised 20 or more special units, including Conviction Review, Resentencing, PID, JSID, Appellate, and Organized Crime. These units handle some of the office’s most politically charged cases. Now that Teran is facing prison time, what steps has or will the District Attorney take to ensure that her alleged wrongdoing did not infect more matters than those referenced in the AG’s complaint?”

Signatories to the Prosecutors Alliance letter include Chesa Boudin, who was San Francisco District Attorney from 2020 to 2022 until he was recalled, Erwin Chemerinsky, who is dean of University of California Berkeley’s law school and the state’s leading constitutional expert, and Gil Garcetti, who was Los Angeles District Attorney for eight years and is father of Eric Garcetti, former Los Angeles Mayor and current U.S. Ambassador to India.

When announcing the charges, Bonta said, “no one is above the law,” and “at the California Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the people of California and hold those who break the law accountable.”

The case by Bonta highlights a growing rift in Democratic politics over criminal justice reform, with Gascon notably absent from local events with state and local officials held to discuss actions to address growing concern about crime in Los Angeles.