Monday, August 29, 2016

Maybe candy would have been dandy

Some blog readers may recall the criminal case brought against a UCLA faculty member in connection with a tragic lab accident that caused the death of a student. It was the kind of case that is normally settled via a civil suit. But the LA District Attorney's office brought criminal charges, initially against the Regents as well as the faculty member. Along the way, another faculty member in a totally unrelated situation was dragged in, seemingly as a kind of hostage, in the hopes of pressuring the university. Ultimately, the hostage case was dropped. And later the lab accident case was essentially dropped after UCLA refused to cave and hired an outside law firm to defend the faculty member. There never was any criminal conviction or anything close to it.*

Afterwards, the LA Times published a story grumbling about the dollar cost to the university of defending the faculty member.** As we noted at the time, the LA Times did not bother to present an accounting of what it cost the DA's office to prosecute the case.*** But now it appears from the Times that perhaps some of the dollars UCLA spent might have been better expended on "gifts" to the DA. We reproduce the opening paragraphs below in our continuing interest in being fair and balanced:

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has accepted more than $10,000 worth of gifts over the last four years from criminal defense attorneys, police unions, business owners, prosecutors in her office and others who could have an interest in influencing her decisions as one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in the county, according to state records. The gifts include necklaces and a pearl box, sporting event tickets, bottles of wine, clothing and a glass rose dipped in 24-carat gold, the records show. 

A Los Angeles Times review of state disclosure records found that Lacey’s gift taking exceeded the amount disclosed over the same time period by the district attorneys of other large California jurisdictions, including Orange County, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino. San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón disclosed more than $18,000 worth of gifts, but about $17,000 was for travel payments from mostly nonprofit organizations for speaking and panel events.  The state’s political ethics law allows public officials to accept gifts totaling $460 from any single source in a calendar year, but requires officials to disclose the gifts on public forms known as statements of economic interest...

Full story at

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