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Jun. 14, 2024

LA city attorney's office accused of retaliation by criminal branch chief

A government claim filed Thursday states Michelle McGinnis was targeted after she raised concerns about what she claims were politically motivated prosecutions.

A high-ranking official working for Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto has accused her office of retaliation for reporting alleged legal and ethical violations in a government claim filed Thursday. The claim by Michelle McGinnis, chief of the criminal branch of the city attorney's office, claimed that she was placed on administrative leave after expressing concern that Feldstein Soto had directed individuals be prosecuted based on personal relationships and political grounds.

"This very claim is another instance of claimant standing up for herself, as she has in the past, and she will be retaliated against for this as part of the ongoing pattern which will surely continue up until this case is resolved," the claim read. "Claimant suffers and continues to suffer economic and non-economic damages as a result of the continuous and consistent retaliation for reporting, disclosing, and/or opposing the unlawful conduct alleged herein."

The claim was filed by Matthew S. McNicholas, Douglas D. Winter and Aleen A. Sorejian of McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP in Los Angeles.

"We met with Ms. McGinnis at length, multiple times, and reviewed what we believed to be a pattern of retaliation against her for simply trying to follow the law as concerns being a prosecutor in the city attorney's office," McNicholas said in a phone call on Thursday.

In an email on Thursday, Ivor Pine, spokesman for the city attorney's office, said, "In keeping with the established practice of this office, we do not comment on pending litigation. We also do not comment on personnel matters, internal investigations or potential disciplinary proceedings. We have not reviewed the claims in question, but the allegations described in the media are untrue other than Ms. McGinnis' representation that she was put on leave is accurate. This office will respond appropriately in any future proceedings."

The claim states McGinnis expressed concern when Feldstein Soto directed her to prosecute an individual identified in video of a demonstration outside of an Israel lobbyist's house in 2023. In a separate incident, she claimed the city attorney indicated certain cases shouldn't be prosecuted because it would adversely affect Feldstein Soto's career.

McGinnis said she was placed on administrative leave in April following a campaign of unfair criticism and belittlement by Feldstein Soto and Chief Deputy City Attorney Denise Mills. She also claimed she was notified in May that the pair was overheard searching through her Google calendar, stating words to the effect of, "We don't have anything yet on her."


Skyler Romero

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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