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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Prosecutor Can Sue Ex District Attorney Cooley

(CN) - Former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley must face claims that he had ulterior motives in suspending a prosecutor in his office and ransacking his things, a federal judge ruled.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney James Bozajian spoke out against Cooley's stance on California's Three Strikes law and condemned Cooley in 2005 for suing to overturn voter-imposed term limits.

Bozajian also criticized Cooley for saying jurors had been "incredibly stupid" to acquit actor Robert Blake of murder.

Cooley was also allegedly opposed to Bozajian's affiliation with the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

For his trouble, Bozajian said he faced unfair promotion denials, punitive assignment transfers and a 30-day suspension in January 2010. Cooley also allegedly ransacked Bozajian's office, told the deputy prosecutor not to seek re-election to the ADDA Board of Directors and called Bozajian one of his "top political enemies."

In a federal complaint against Cooley and the county, Bozajian also named the prosecutors who had allegedly helped carry out the retaliatory orders: Curtis Hazell, John Spillane, John Zajec, Jaquelyn Lacey, Janet Moore and Sharon Matsumoto.

Cooley and the prosecutors sought to dismiss the action, saying it came two years too late, but U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II found Tuesday that Bozajian acted in good faith and is entitled to equitable tolling.

Wright also found Bozajian presented sufficient evidence that Cooley's staff violated his constitutional rights.

"Bozajian presents sufficient evidence to suggest that these retaliatory acts carried out by Cooley's staff, were done under direct orders from Cooley himself - the final policymaker at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office," the ruling states. "In short, assuming all of the allegations are true, the court finds that the events complained about by Bozajian were plausibly performed under Cooley's orders in retaliation against Bozajian's criticism and his association with the ADDA."

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