It was announced Friday afternoon that Bruce Riordan—a former federal prosecutor who has been the head of the gang detail for the City Attorney’s office under both Rocky Delgadillo and now Carmen Trutanich—will be leaving Trutanich’s office to join newly minted US Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr as Birotte’s Senior Counsel.
Evidently, ’tis the season for intriguing job changes in law enforcement.
Just to remind you, Birotte’s office covers the Central District of California, the largest in the nation.
And in case Riordan’s name isn’t immediately familiar I should tell you that he is veteran prosecutor who has broad experience both on a state and a federal level.
More specifically, he is highly respected by law enforcement and other prosecutors--but also by liberal types like me who value smart, aggressive, informed prosecutors who, while hard charging, have the willingness to see the larger, more complex human picture when it comes to subjects like gangs. Riordan epitomizes those two kinds of abilities—that many see as mutually exclusive. (PS: They’re not.)
He will be a loss for the CA’s office, but a gigantic win for Andre Birotte’s team. (Bruce said that his boss, Trutanich, who had to have been disappointed at the move, was gracious about letting him go.)
I talked with Andre Birotte today, and he said he is thrilled that Bruce will join him. They’ve known each other for years, “and we’re like minded,” he said. And he brought up that Riordan has a unique level of experience in the area of gangs, both in the CA’s office and as a federal prosecutor. All true.
Both Birotte and Riordan sound pretty fired up about the jobs ahead of them. It’s nice to hear the enthusiasm, actually. Birotte ticked off all the areas his office will be pursuing. There’s violent crime, naturally, but cyber crime is also a biggie. Plus those mortgage-remediation predators and other fraudsters who are stalking the desperate in increasing numbers in this difficult economy. And civil rights violators. And more.
It’s a long list.
Andre also said that one of the things he and his team will do in the near future is extensive outreach to the communities and counties that the Central District covers. “We have to be willing to listen to the community,” he said. “So we’re going to do outreach like never before.” Unusual for a prosecutor—and a very good call.
We talked about the various challenges Birotte and his office will face, including budget cutbacks. Eventually the topic of justice surfaced. I mentioned that, in the present prosecutorial climate, both on a local and a federal level, sometimes it seems that the goal is to win a big as possible, but not necessarily to seek justice—especially when winning and justice are in conflict.
“Its funny you should bring that up,” he said, “I’ve just been telling my staff that this is going to be a justice-driven office. Firm but fair. But more than anything, justice-driven. It’s not just about winning. And I know Bruce feels that same way.” That’s part of why he wants to work with Riordan, he said.
Good words. And, fortunately for the rest of us, with Andre Birotte and Bruce Riordan, the notion of justice is more than just talk.
PS: I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE TRUTANICH/GRAND JURY ISSUE… But right now it’s looking like it’s going to wait until Monday, given the time.