Troy Anderson, Staff Writer
Created: 02/24/2010 09:21:59 PM PST

A federal judge said this week he would need more time to review a request for a preliminary injunction barring Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley from retaliating against prosecutors who joined the union.

The hearing was held in response to a lawsuit the 300-member Association of Deputy District Attorneys filed against Cooley, alleging he retaliated against veteran prosecutors by transferring them to remote parts of the county, increased their health insurance payments, demoted them and downgraded their performance evaluations.

Saying he didn’t think it was a coincidence that experienced prosecutors were transferred to remote areas and to juvenile court assignments, U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II said he was inclined to issue the injunction.

But he took the matter “under submission” while he reviewed county ordinances pertaining to the health benefits issue.

Los Angeles attorney David Wilson, Cooley’s attorney, said there is no factual basis for the judge to issue the injunction.

“I’ve been to a lot of hearings, and judges say a lot of things from the bench,” Wilson said. “He did ask for additional information, which is an indication that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, so we are looking forward to a favorable outcome.”

At the hearing, Wilson said the transfers were made in accordance with office policies. But Wright questioned the motive of the transfers.

“Is it just coincidence that we have experienced deputies suddenly finding themselves in Pomona or at Los Padrinos (Juvenile Hall)?” Wright asked. “Is it just a co-inky-dink?”

“Well, your honor, I don’t know if I’d quite express it that way, but I think the needs of the District Attorney’s Office require that senior attorneys be transferred around quite a bit, and in this situation it happens they are also active in the negotiating team for the ADDA,” Wilson said.

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