Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon creating Racial Justice Act section
The move is in response to California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing a law that expands provisions of the state's 2020 Racial Justice Act
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon is creating a racial justice section in response to an expansion of the state's Racial Justice Act.
The Racial Justice Act Section will be established within the DA's Habeas Corpus Litigation Team (HABLIT) Section to deal with the "considerable volume of petitions for habeas relief" expected under the recent expansion of the Racial Justice Act, according to a Thursday memo to prosecutors from Gascon's chief of staff Joseph Iniguez.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 256 into law last month, expanding the 2020 Racial Justice Act. The law allows for individuals to petition to vacate judgments or reduce charges in cases in which a person's race, ethnicity or national origin played a part in if they were "charged with more serious crimes or sentenced more severely than others who were similarly situated," the memo states.
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Prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a criminal defendant wasn't subjected to bias or animus — be it intentional or unintentional — because of their race and other factors.
The original law applied only to criminal cases in which the trial court judgment was issued on or after Jan. 1, 2021.
"When we passed the Racial Justice Act, we did so with a promise to not leave behind those with past criminal convictions and sentences that were tainted by systemic racial bias, both explicit and implicit, in our courts," state Assemblymember Ash Kalra, the bill’s sponsor, said in a Sept. 30 statement. "There is still much work to be done, but now AB 256 will provide a valuable tool to meaningfully address the stark racial disparities in our sentencing history."
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Prosecutors assigned to the new unit will develop a review process to ensure the petitions are evaluated. Fox News has reached out to Gascon's office.