Blacknell Is Not to Become a Gascón Advisor; Trujillo Gets Post She Was Expected to Fill
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The expected switch-over of Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender Tiffiny Townend Blacknell to the District Attorney’s Office as community relations director is not occurring, with Deputy District Attorney Mario Trujillo, instead assuming the role of “community and government affairs liaison.”
Blacknell, a member of the transition team of the new district attorney, George Gascón, stirred controversy in mid-December by sending a link to colleagues and private defense attorneys to an online form to be used in reporting deputy district attorneys who failed to accede to a special directive ordering that all sentencing enhancements be withdrawn. Trujillo, who has been the de facto Number Three man in the new administration, made a statement that the form was not posted with the office’s knowledge or approval.
Further controversy surrounded Blacknell after a deputy public defender announced in court on Dec. 15 that she thought the defendant, charged with a gang-related murder and attempted murders, with special circumstances, had received an offer of a seven-year prison term. Blacknell had been representing the defendant up to that point, and the offer, according to the deputy district attorney in the case—who apparently had only a vague knowledge of it—came from Trujillo.
One seasoned prosecutor said such a sweetheart deal was unprecedented, and commented:
“Ms. Blacknell can’t be asking for offers from the very administration she’s [about to be] working for.”
Just what it was that caused Blacknell’s expected move to the prosecutor’s office not to come about is unknown. However, she was identified by multiple knowledgeable sources as being among three members of the Public Defender’s Office who were to join the Gascón administration.
The other two—Alisa Blair and Diana Teran—are coming aboard on Feb. 1 as special advisors, according to a staff memo which Gascón issued Friday. The district attorney said in that memo that Joseph Iniguez will remain interim chief deputy, Victoria Adams will become chief of staff, James Garrison will be promoted to assistant district attorney for line operations, and Dorinne Jordan will continue to serve as chief administrative officer.
Gascón also announced that Alex Bastian will move over from the Office of San Francisco District Attorney to become a special advisor to him. While Gascón was San Francisco district attorney, Bastian was his spokesperson, and Friday’s memo said he will now “be responsible for providing guidance and direction in the development of internal and external messages and media strategics.”
The role of Trujillo—who is mayor of Downey—was described as that of representing “the District Attorney in both routine and complex matters with municipalities and community-based organizations.” The holder of the post of “community liaison” under District Attorney Jackie Lacey, was Theresa “Terri” Coady, who was unofficially Lacey’s chief political advisor.
One veteran prosecutor remarked that Adams and Garrison “are very good managers.”
A former higher-up in the District Attorney’s Office declared:
“An executive only needs ‘special advisors’ if he doesn’t know anything on his own.”
Noting that Iniguez has handled only five trials, the critic said, facetiously:
“I’m sure he will be highly respected by the DDAs, the Board of Supes and everyone in law enforcement.”
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