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In this still image taken from the Law&Crime Network court video, real estate heir Robert Durst watches as Deputy District Attorney John Lewin presents a new round of opening statements in the murder case against Durst after a 14-month recess due to the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Inglewood, Calif., on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Law&Crime Network via AP, Pool)
In this still image taken from the Law&Crime Network court video, real estate heir Robert Durst watches as Deputy District Attorney John Lewin presents a new round of opening statements in the murder case against Durst after a 14-month recess due to the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Inglewood, Calif., on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Law&Crime Network via AP, Pool)
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Attorneys for John Lewin, the lead prosecutor in the trial of murderer Robert Durst, want a judge to order Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón to sit for a deposition n for speaking out against Gascón’s sentencing recommendation directives.

Deputy District Attorney Lewin’s legal team filed the court papers Tuesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steve Cochran, arguing that the county’s top prosecutor has delayed long enough in agreeing to a deposition date.

The veteran prosecutor alleges he was wrongfully transferred from his high-profile position in the Cold Case Unit of the Major Crimes Division to a job handling daily cases before a judge at the Inglewood courthouse because of his criticisms of Gascón’s sentencing directives, implemented after Gascón took office in December 2020.

Although as recently as late May attorneys for Gascón said in an email that they were willing to discuss a date for their client’s deposition, no definitive availability time was offered despite ongoing requests dating back more than a year, according to Lewin’s attorneys’ court papers.

“George Gascón should be subjected to deposition because of his direct personal factual information regarding the implementation of the special directives, plaintiff’s complaints of these illegal policies and Gascón’s specific role in the retaliatory transfer of plaintiff, all of which are material to this action, exclusive to George Gascón and not available from any other source,” Lewin’s attorneys argue in their court papers.

The evidence supports the notion that Gascón had direct knowledge of Lewin’s complaints, was on notice of the plaintiff’s concern of a retaliatory transfer and was involved in the decision to relegate him to a calendar deputy position, the Lewin lawyers further state in their pleadings.

Lewin in 2021 was awarded that year’s Ken Lamb Distinguished Achievement Award for his 27 years of service in the District Attorney’s Office, but he refused the office’s request to appear on a photo with Gascón because he worried doing so would be “construed as an endorsement of Gascón’s illegal policies,” Lewin’s attorneys state in their court papers.

Durst, a New York real estate heir who was serving life in prison without parole, died in January 2022 at age 78 of natural causes. Durst was convicted in September 2021 of first-degree murder for the December 2000 shooting of Susan Berman in Beverly Hills.

The Durst case was the focus of “The Jinx,” a documentary released on HBO/Max. Lewin figures prominently in Season 2, which examines how Durst’s trial unfolded in Los Angeles.

A hearing on Lewin’s motion is scheduled for Sept. 23. His lawsuit was filed in February 2023.

 

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