Kevin de León refuses to resign. What happens to his constituents?
On November 19, voters in Los Angeles elected a new district attorney—Michael Burke—and he’s not alone. Los Angeles County is a huge place, with 3 million voters, more than a dozen cities and a county jail alone.
“Michael Burke isn’t going to be the only Democrat. There are going to be others,” says Richard Katz, a former director of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and an ex-UCLA professor who worked with de León.
Katz is also one of the county’s most colorful former prosecutors.
He is a big city resident and an attorney who has done time both here and in the city of Glendale on federal drug charges (for which he served time on house arrest). Katz used to be a prosecutor. And he’s also, Katz says, an astute observer of human behavior. That includes the human capacity for self-deception.
Katz says he grew up in a home so heavily populated with politicians that you almost had to make your own bed in order to lie down.
It turned out that Katz’s bedroom was just fine if you were a politician.
“We knew that a whole bunch of politicians were making a lot of money,” Katz tells me, referring to Los Angeles politicians. “We didn’t know how much, but it was a lot.”
Katz says he was a public defender in L.A. County during the late ’70s and early ’80s. He was also an assistant public defender for two years at the L.A. County Superior Court, which handles some of the biggest criminal cases in Los Angeles County.
He also worked briefly as a defense lawyer in other counties. As a federal prosecutor, he said he handled several hundred cases in federal prison.
Katz tells me it did not start in Los Angeles. Most of his days as a prosecutor were spent in the city of Glendale, where he was an assistant DA in the late ’80s, early �