UPDATE: Reassigned 'Lifer Unit' DDA Julianne Walker Debunks Gascòn's Lies About the Unit's Closure

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.


While Hoge was able to get statements on the record from former Los Angeles Police Supervisor and City Councilmember Dennis P. Zine, Deputy District Attorney Marc Debbault, and former prosecutor and child advocate Kathleen Cady, many Los Angeles County DDAs were too fearful to even go on the record anonymously.

We spoke to more than one Deputy District Attorney, and they did not want to be quoted even anonymously. 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 correspondent Bill Melugin posted the entire letter from his Twitter account, outlining the dismantling of 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 is a bombshell:

Hi Bill: This is Julianne Walker, a DDA in the soon to be disbanded Lifer Unit. I’ve see [sic] the “response” from Gascon and would like to quickly give you these points:

1. The Lifer Unit was not downsized to only 3 lawyers under DDA Lacey. The contract employees, retirees with vast experience in the parole arena, were not rehired, let go due to County wide budget shortfalls due to COVID.

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. It was horrible to tell these families the news. Heartbreaking.

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


RedState has reported extensively on this here, and here.

2. The CDCR Registration form is supposed to to be provided to every victim/ family at or before sentencing. However, it did not and still does not routinely occur. Even when a family has registered 15, 20, 25 years ago, the information is often out of date, and CDCR makes no effort to find the current contact info. The onus is put entirely on the traumatized victims and their families. Also, the victimes and their families rightfully believed under the laws in existence at the time that there never would be a parole hearing and the offender would die in prison. 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. It is very rare that people tell us they do not not want to be kept informed. The usual response is to question how the parole hearing is coming up at all. And then ask why DDAs aren’t allowed to go. And finally ask about information we can no longer share with them since Gascon blocked our access to CDCR inmate files.

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

His administration then froze out DDAs access to state prison records so victims are not prepared for what they might hear during the parole hearing. Iniguez [Gascon’s chief of staff who was recently busted for public intoxication], has instructed DDAs [deputy DAs] and VSRs [Victim Services Representatives] that they can not refer victims to pro bono attorneys who stand ready to assist them. Now, he will not even assist with notifying victims that a defendant is up for parole.  Many of these defendants had been sentenced to hundreds of years to life or Life Without the Possibility of Parole so 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. The Gascon administration does not have a trauma informed approach. Just look at this response and how insensitive it is to the victims and their families, the fast [sic] majority of which are victims of gun violence, to use the term “triggering”. Our Lifer Unit has pointed this out that such terminology is offensive and hurtful, yet they continue to use it. Further, how is it possibly trauma informed to deny victims and their families current information and the legal expertise of a DDA at the hearing and in preparation of 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.

The specific subsection is in the 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 process, a victim shall be entitled to the following rights:

“(7) To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.

“(8) To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.”


Emphases mine.

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

5. Victim Services Representatives are not lawyers and do not understand the legalities of the parole hearing. Their skills are providing emotional support and services. Gascon continually puts forth “services” as if he is protecting their “rights” He is not. He is abandoning their constitutional rights and thinks a band aid of some type of service like counseling will make up for his refusal to protect their rights.

I could go on and am happy to address any questions you have on the record.

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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