Los Angeles Times Reports on Retaliation Claim Filed Against LA City Attorney’s Office: Criminal Branch Chief’s Career Dismantled for Reporting Legal Violations

As reported by Los Angeles Times, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP is representing veteran city prosecutor Michelle McGinnis in her legal claim accusing her boss, Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto, of retaliating against her for reporting “legal and ethical violations.” McGinnis, who until April 2024 was head of the city attorney’s criminal branch, alleged that Feldstein Soto based some decisions about who should be prosecuted on “personal relationships” or “perceived political gain.”

“When McGinnis objected that the office was both legally and ethically prohibited from making such prosecution decisions, she was subjected to a series of adverse employment actions and ultimately placed on administrative leave, removed from the office, and prohibited from further contact with office colleagues and employees,” Partner Matthew McNicholas said.

Read the Los Angeles Times story here.

Learn more about the claim below.

LOS ANGELES (June 13, 2024) – Trial law firm McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, filed a government tort claim on behalf of Michelle McGinnis against her employer, Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney.  McGinnis is a 30-year employee and the current Chief of the Criminal Branch of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. After reporting what she believed were a number of legal and ethical violations within the Office, McGinnis alleges she was subjected to a series of adverse employment actions, and ultimately placed on administrative leave, removed from the Office, and prohibited from further contact with Office colleagues and employees.

“Michelle has been an employee of the City Attorney’s Office since 1993 with an exemplary employment record,” said Matthew McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP. “Michelle adhered to her duty and obligation to report what she believed were the Office’s ongoing legal and ethical violations, and was met with a barrage of retaliatory actions.”

Case Background

McGinnis was appointed to Chief of the Criminal Branch by then-newly-elected City Attorney Feldstein Soto in May 2023. The claim alleges that due to personal relationships and perceived political gain, Feldstein Soto directed McGinnis as to which individuals and entities should or should not be prosecuted by the Office. McGinnis claims the retaliation began when she objected to this direction on ethical and legal grounds. McGinnis goes on to allege that Feldstein Soto and Chief Deputy City Attorney Denise Mills undertook a concerted effort to professionally discredit McGinnis, who had also reported other legal violations in the Office, including what McGinnis believed was a failure to comply with Department of Justice regulations, grant fund conditions, and discriminatory treatment of Head Deputies in the Office.

As part of the campaign against McGinnis, she claims she was repeatedly criticized in front of colleagues, including other branch chiefs, accused of being incompetent at her job, subjected to heightened scrutiny including Mills requesting ongoing access to her Google calendar, and scapegoated for her perceived wrongdoing.

On April 22, 2024, in what is alleged to be the final retaliatory act, McGinnis was told to gather her personal belongings, turn over her laptop, badge and other workplace items, and was escorted out of the building in front of her colleagues. She had received no notice that this action was coming. McGinnis was put on administrative leave “pending an investigation of alleged misconduct,” and ordered to stay away from all City Attorney facilities and not to contact colleagues. She was also told to remain home during work hours, even for medical needs, unless she had advance permission to leave from the City Attorney’s Office.

In May 2024, it is believed that Feldstein Soto and Mills had allegedly searched McGinnis's Google calendar and timecards and were overheard saying something to the effect of, “we don’t have anything on her yet.”


McNicholas & McNicholas, a Los Angeles-based plaintiff-trial law firm, represents clients in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, employment law, class actions, sexual abuse, and other consumer-oriented matters such as civil rights, aviation disasters, and product liability. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, McNicholas & McNicholas has been trying cases to jury verdicts on behalf of its clients for more than five decades.


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