Los Angeles: Employee union accuses district attorney of libel

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys accused the Los Angeles district attorney of committing libel in a newsletter that criticized the association. The accusation is part of an ongoing dispute over the district attorney’s alleged union-busting tactics. -db

Metropolitan News-Enterprise
March 10, 2010
By Sherri M. Okamoto

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys yesterday sent a missive to its members accusing Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley of misrepresenting the ongoing dispute between his administration and the union in his office’s weekly online newsletter for employees.

Montana attorney Matthew G. Monforton, a former county prosecutor now serving as counsel for the ADDA in its federal lawsuit against the county, opined that Cooley’s statements on Monday were “libelous,” and demonstrated “remarkable disrespect by Cooley for both his prosecutors and the judicial system” coming on the heels of the preliminary injunction issued last week by U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II of the Central District of California.

Wright is presiding over the lawsuit filed by the ADDA and an unnamed member against Cooley, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Spillane, Bureau Director John Zajec and Assistant District Attorneys Curtis Hazell and Jacquelyn Lacey last October, claiming constitutional violations based on the defendants’ attempts to quash the fledging union.

The judge found that the ADDA “established a course of explicit retaliation” by Cooley and his administration that was “both striking and rampant” in his decision last Tuesday ordering them not to discipline or discriminate against prosecutors for belonging to the union.

He also ordered the county to show cause by Friday on why it should not be sanctioned for its “frivolous and improper filings” in the dispute.

Monforton opined Cooley’s message was “a continuation of his efforts to intimidate ADDA members,” and “grossly inaccurate.” He said the union was “examining our legal options” as to a response.

In his newsletter message, Cooley did not refer to the ADDA specifically, but referenced recent “negative articles quoting a few employees within the office” and asserted that these remarks came from “disgruntled individuals who have faced disciplinary matters or are using the legal process to assert their own personal or political agendas.”

He claimed that several of these persons “have been disciplined for misconduct or currently are facing disciplinary matters based on their personal actions in violation of both state and county rules and regulations concerning sexual harassment, hostile workplace, insubordination, threatening supervisors and other serious violations of Los Angeles County and office policies” and are now falsely claiming that that the actions the office took against them based on their own personal misconduct were because they were union supporters.

“When the evidence is presented in court and the facts involving these allegations are fully litigated, the truth will come out,” Cooley said.

Monforton took issue with Cooley’s characterization of the “few employees within the office” quoted by the media, insisting that “those folks have not faced disciplinary matters and are not using the political process for their own agendas,” emphasizing that “it’s the ADDA that’s the plaintiff, not any ADDA board member” in the federal lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Cooley’s office said yesterday that it was standing by Cooley’s comments and was prepared to prove them in court.

“Our prosecutors deserved a response to what so far has been a one-sided presentation,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to exercise our free speech rights under the First Amendment as we deem necessary.”

Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company


  • This is an interesting case, and I look forward to watching it unfold. Thanks for the post.

  • Please do a little research. The so-called “Employee Union” is wholly unrepresentative of the overwhelming majority of Los Angeles deputy district attorney, who were misled into believing they were joining a union that would work with management to obtain fair and appropriate salary and benefits increases.

    In reality, this union turned out to be a secretive and unaccountable group of deadbeats, lead by a “president” who was abusing his position to advance his own political agenda. In 2008 ADDA “President” Steve Ipsen ran against DA Steve Cooley, and he lost. Since then, Ipsen has concentrated on forming a “union” that is undemocratic, secretive, and focused solely on trying to embarrass Cooley’s administration with these pathetic and baseless lawsuits. Ipsen himself had to withdraw his complaint that he was the target of retaliation for forming his “union” when it was revealed that Ipsen had not only testified as a character witness for a three-time convicted sex offender who he described as “one of his closest friends,” but had also allowed this “closest friend” to live with him, use his car, and have access to his DA Badge. Hardly the model for a “President” let alone acceptable conduct for a deputy district attorney.
    Ipsen’s Stalin-like leadership of his “union” is a disgrace. Ipsen recently endorsed Attorney General candidate John Eastman, making the endorsement appear to be in the name of all Los Angeles deputy district attorneys. Ipsen acted without the consent of Los Angeles deputy district attorneys and in doing so showed not only how unrepresentative he is, but also gave another clear example of the poor choices he makes; Eastman had been running with a ballot designation of “Assistant Attorney General” when in fact Eastman is a minor law school dean. A Superior Court judge recently threw out Eastman’s misleading ballot designation. These are the types of people this union “President” believes in; convicted sex offenders and lying politicians.

Comments are closed.