Gascon Says He Will Seek The Death Penalty In Cases That 'Warrant' It

Categories: Law & Order
Thumbnail image for Gascon by Shawn Calhoun.jpg
Death Penalty Supporter
It's no secret that San Francisco's District Attorney's Office and The Police Department have a long history of tension and soured relations, even long before the fajitagate incident when the famously left-wing Terence Hallinan indicted the top brass of the SFPD.

Things didn't get much smoother for police under the auspices of Kamala Harris, who was blasted by SFPD for not seeking the death penalty for David Hill, the career criminal convicted of shooting 29-year-old Officer Issac Espinoza.

Cops were further frustrated because Harris touted a strong conviction rate, but records show those numbers only really applied to plea deals. In fact, felony convictions that went to a jury trial had declined over the last few years. 

But now that the newly-appointed District Attorney is a former cop himself, will this help the two agencies cooperate? Some say yes. 

Gascon, who was appointed Sunday afternoon, is almost certain to change the culture and the working relationship between the DA and the SFPD. As one City Hall insider noted: "The two agencies have not been the closest but having the former police chief at the helm of the DA's Office means rank and file cops and police management will feel comfortable interacting with the DA's Office."

Gascon, who leans more moderate, has already confirmed in media reports that he plans to keep most of Harris' programs intact -- except for one. 

Gascon indicated in the Chronicle that he will take a pro law enforcement approach to convictions, seeking the death penalty "in cases that warrant it."

That will surely bring cops closer to his new camp. 

If you don't like that, vote against Gascon next year, when he plans to run for a 4-year term as DA.


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3 comments
Sallyfein
Sallyfein

And how's our broke-ass city gonna afford all the extra costs a death penalty case incurs?

h. brown
h. brown

Most importantly,

Have you seen the guy's wife? Christ, the level of eye candy at City Hall rocketed over the last few years. Gavin marries first a national newscaster drop-dead honey and then goes for another perky beauty starlet a few years later. Mirkarimi's partner is a major soap opera star from Venezuela. Chu and Cohen and Kim on the BOS?

The cop who commented above is probably right (that's why he's a detective?) ... Gascon needed security for his pretty newscaster bride and top cops just don't have that. Recall that he was tied to a rail and awaiting the tar and feathers in Mesa cause he tangled with Sheriff Joe ("I hate immigrants!") Arpaio. Really, just ask him, George was going to be fired.

In shouldn't have surprised Newsom that the guy took the job. He was standing on a banana peel with his present position. He's way too law abiding and open for the POA and any new Progressive mayor would probably want their own chief.

It's a win-win.

h.

Publius
Publius

It's interesting how the presumption is made that because Gascon was the Chief of Police that rank and file cops will somehow have a better relationship with the DA's office because he's there now. The tension between the two Departments owes to things systemic and thus intractable, and personalities, and thus temporal. The systemic is this: cops arrest on probable cause, a relatively "low" threshold which is defined in law as "a fair probability" that a crime occurred. The DA must convict on a standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" a much higher standard. In effect, the cops are playing checkers when the game is really chess. This tensions exists, and shows no sign of abating. The personality conflicts are generally at the higher levels of the organizations. Working cops and especially detectives (of which I am one) generally have a good working relationship with working prosecutors. Harris' opposition of the death penalty was especially wounding because of the death of Isaac Espinoza. Gascon's opening the possibility of a death penalty case is not going to carry the day with most thinking cops. First, it'll never happen, not in San Francisco. Even though Gascon's history is out-of-town he's shown himself to be a quick-study and deft tactician when it comes to local politics. He knows full well that you can't get a death penalty conviction in SF. The bottom line is that Gascon's effort to obtain job security and political opportunity by taking the DA's job is and will be seen by working cops as one man's effort to further and expand his personal future. I personally don't begrudge him that but, don't think for a moment that my relationship with the DA's office is better, or worse for that matter, because a "cop" is now the DA.

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