But civil rights attorneys say Trutanich went too far in dealing with political protesters by seeking jail time for violations that previous prosecutors treated as infractions.
Attorney Cynthia Anderson-Barker was one of the lawyers who represented nine students arrested for blocking traffic during a 2010 immigration protest. She said her clients' cases should have been resolved in informal meetings, not the lengthy criminal court proceedings initiated by Trutanich's office. "It was a total waste of resources on these students," she said.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, June 07, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Carmen Trutanich: In the June 1 LATExtra section, an article about the record of Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich said that an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries was partly invalidated by a federal judge. It was a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who declared parts of the ordinance invalid.
The charges against the students ultimately were dropped, as were similar cases against Cal State Northridge students arrested during protests over budget cuts. Trutanich said his office's criminal prosecutions offered an "educational moment" for the students. "I want people to be free to talk and express themselves," he said. "But they have to understand that we live in an ordered liberty."
Among the challenges facing Trutanich's office in recent years have been federal investigations involving several city agencies and a 15% reduction in his staff.
Asked if linking possible city bankruptcy with his budget needs at last month's hearing rubbed council members the wrong way, Trutanich said: "I don't care. It's truthful."