A deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County filed a defamation lawsuit against District Attorney Georg Gascón this week, alleging his character has been attacked and he has been denied promotions and discriminated against racially because of his public criticism of the district attorney, according to reports.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami is a 15-year child abuse prosecutor with the DA’s office and a vocal critic of Gascón’s progressive policies, like ending the death penalty in the state and pursuing milder sentences for convicted murderers, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.
Gascón, 67, a former San Francisco police chief who later succeeded Kamala Harris as that city’s DA before moving to Los Angeles County and winning an election there last November and taking office in December, has been criticized by both conservatives and victims’ advocates.
“My No. 1 job is being a dad,” Hatami told The Signal newspaper in Santa Clarita Valley on Tuesday. “George Gascón has adversely affected my family and my children by calling me derogatory names, attacking my character, criticizing my cases, negatively impacting my promotional status and salary, and creating an environment that makes doing my job much more difficult than it should be.”
“George Gascón has adversely affected my family and my children by … [making] my job much more difficult than it should be.”
— Jon Hatami, deputy district attorney
The lawsuit alleges Gascón “deliberately denied assigning (Hatami) to complex child abuse and murder cases within his jurisdiction as punishment for not going along with his directives.” Hatami said not being allowed on challenging cases has hindered his ability to get a promotion, according to FOX 11.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles, Friday, June 18, 2021. (Getty Images)
Hatami claimed in the lawsuit 15 other deputy district attorneys were promoted in August but Hatami was denied it despite his “perfect work records, highly positive performance evaluations and numerous high-profile cases and trials.”
Hatami has been a critic of Gascón’s since before the DA was elected last year. In March, he told “Fox & Friends,” “We now have a district attorney who is pro-criminal, anti-victim, and who refuses to follow the law.”
The lawsuit claims that when Gascón said on a podcast that dissenters at the district attorney’s office would either become “internal terrorists or they’ll leave,” he was making a veiled “racially infused” remark about Hatami, who is Iranian and has a Muslim father.
Maxwell Szabo, a spokesman for Gascón’s transition team, is cited in the suit for telling FOX 11 last year, “Hatami’s delusional theories raise questions as to one’s fitness to practice law.”
Szabo also called Hatami a “liar” in a City Council meeting, according to the suit, FOX 11 reported.
Gascón claimed that Hatami had sought the death penalty against Isauro Aguirre, a man accused of torturing and beating his 8-year-old son to death, only because he had a personal grudge against Aguirre and his ego got in the way.
The lawsuit called the comments “knowingly false.”
“The county in no way intervened or gave an official public statement denouncing the defamatory language published by Gascón and Szabo,” the lawsuit said. “The county also did not intervene to prevent and stop the hostile work environment created almost immediately after Gascón was sworn in as the Los Angeles County District Attorney in which DAs with long-standing reputations were harassed, intimidated, treated like snitches and retaliated against for speaking up about concerns over the legality of new directives.”
In January, the district attorney’s office said an internal grievance filed against Szabo asking for a public apology had been closed, Hatami said, and even if the allegations were true they weren’t “jurisdictional” regarding Los Angeles County’s anti-decimation employment laws, FOX 11 reported.
“I will not stand by and allow him to harm my mental health, my family, my children, and my cases,” Hatami told The Signal.
The district attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ after-hours request for comment.