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Trutanich team criticizes Delgadillo's management

September 24, 2009 |  6:30 pm

Newly elected Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich today released his official transition report, and it shows no mercy for his predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo.

Units within the office’s Criminal and Special Litigation Branch were “downright anemic from their lack of resources, staffing, leadership and support," the report concluded. Morale among the unit’s attorneys and other staff also was “very low."

Delgadillo rebuffed that criticism when contacted for a response. He said the overwhelming majority of his budget was devoted to the criminal and special litigation branch, and the attorneys made tremendous gains in cracking down on gang crime in the city and ensuring that public schools were free of violence.

“Clearly, like any prosecutor, I would have liked to have more money, but we were in a budget crisis," Delgadillo said. “We did a lot with the money we had. I’m proud of the work that the attorneys did in the office."

Trutanich, who took office July 1, enlisted a transition team of top attorneys and community members to review the functions of the office and recommend improvements. Their report also included recommendations to increase training for attorneys, hire more investigators and adopt a transparent process for promotions and employee evaluations.

The harshest criticism of Delgadillo’s management related to the public integrity and ethics unit, which has responsibility for investigating allegations of wrongdoing against elected and appointed city officials.

“The city attorney’s office does not appear to currently investigate or prosecute violations of the City Charter related to public integrity,’’ the report states, noting “the absence of any named attorney for this unit and the absence of any specific report concerned the activities of this unit.’’

Officials with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said the agency’s referrals to the city attorney for possible misdemeanor violations of the City Charter “were apparently not pursued," the report states.

Again, Delgadillo said that criticism was off the mark. He said, in fact, one of his most senior criminal attorneys headed the public integrity unit. Delgadillo added that, in most instances, those cases were referred to either the district attorney or U.S. attorney for prosecution since the city attorney’s office can prosecute only misdemeanors.

Delgadillo served as city attorney for eight years, and was termed out of office in July. He is now a lawyer in the Los Angeles office of Goodwin Procter LLP, and is exploring a possible run for California attorney general.

—Phil Willon at L.A. City Hall