Candidate Becomes Emotional at Forum
Deputy District Attorney Reacts to Interjection By Member of Audience; Protests Unfairness
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, an announced candidate for Los Angeles County district attorney, became emotionally upset over a spectator’s three-word interjection during his remarks at a candidates’ forum, a blurry recording by a cellphone camera, which is making the rounds by email, shows.
When Hatami, participating at a forum on Sept. 19 at a Manhattan Beach bar, said, “I do believe that I will be the one that ends up winning, with another person, the primary,” a woman in attendance, remarked:
“I doubt it.”
That set Hatami off. Although he was emotional, he was not near-tears as he was when interviewed by a television reporter in early 2021 after he stepped forward to challenge the policies instituted by the then-new district attorney, George Gascón.
Hatami said at the forum, in response to the jibe:
“Excuse me. That’s rude and inappropriate.
“It really is. You should give me a fair opportunity to be able to speak and whoever said that should apologize.
“That is not right. It’s not fair.
“It really isn’t.”
The event was staged by three criminal defense lawyers: Joe Markus, Andrew Stein, and R.J. Dreiling. Looking at Markus, Hatami protested:
“It really isn’t, Joe, it’s not fair.
Markus instructed the audience: “We don’t do that,” and told Hatami to proceed.
Seven of the nine prospective candidates were present. Jeff Chemerinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, was at a campaign kick-off event and Gascón was not present and had not responded to the invitation. Gascón’s absence prompted Hatami to say:
“Where is George Gascón? Where is he?
“We have a public safety crisis here in Los Angeles County and George Gascón is afraid to face his constituents. He’s afraid to face all of you and to answer those types of questions.
“He’s running and he’s hiding and that isn’t what an elected district attorney of Los Angeles County should be [doing].”
Also participating were former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Nathan Hochman, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell, former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Milton, and Deputy District Attorneys John McKinney, Maria Ramirez, and Eric Siddall.
McKinney told the gathering:
“It’s not the role of the district attorney to allow chaos in the streets.”
Siddall, who resigned as vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys just before announcing his candidacy, said of Gascón:
“He is an extremely vindictive human being—and an extremely vindictive human being has now place running for the district attorney’s office.”
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