South LA crime-fighting residents awarded for courage

Five courageous citizens were honored today at the final Courageous Citizen Awards ceremony of the year. | District Attorney Twitter

Five courageous citizens were honored today at the final Courageous Citizen Awards ceremony of the year. | District Attorney Twitter

Three South Los Angeles residents were among the handful of Angelenos named recipients of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office’s Courageous Citizen Award because of their courage and acts of selflessness.

The award was created, according to the District Attorney’s office, to commend individuals who have acted with courage in the face of personal risk to help a victim of crime, capture a suspect or testify in high-pressure situations. The District Attorney presents the awards several times a year, and this season’s award presentation took place Wednesday. The program was started in 1986, according to a District Attorney spokesperson.

“Our community is a safer place because these local heroes refused to look the other way when others needed help,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “The courage displayed by each of these honorees is nothing short of remarkable.” [Read more…]

L.A. County D.A. candidate details views on drugs, Proposition 36, redemption and fair trials

Jackie Lacey answering questions from one of the panelists.

What was planned to be an ideal occasion for voters to further comprehend the differences in both character and position between the two candidates for Los Angeles County district attorney, ended up being a question and answer session between the panelists, the audience and Jackie Lacey, the current Chief Deputy District Attorney and the only candidate that showed up at the forum held at the Bethel A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles.

Hector Villagra, co-host of the event and Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU-SC), said that Alan Jackson, the other candidate, did not respond to the invitation. “Nevertheless,” he added, “we have set up an empty chair for him.” Although people laughed at Villagra’s remark, it was evident that they were upset. One of the audience members said that he considered Jackson´s behavior “a lack of respect to the community.”

Despite their annoyance, both panelists and the audience took advantage of the opportunity to better understand Ms. Lacey’s position on issues important to the community. Lacey responded to questions on fair drug enforcement, juvenile justice, conditions in county jails, charging, plea bargaining and sentence reform, as well as alternatives to incarceration for nearly two hours.

One of the first points Lacey made was that she is against the legalization of drugs. “For me, it is personal. I have raised a nephew due to drugs making his parents unavailable,” she said.

Her stance on medical marijuana sales is firm. Lacey says that she will prosecute dispensaries. “Dispensaries attract people that are well. Citizens going to dispensaries are on average under 30 years old. Legalizing them will not cure our drug problems.” On this issue, both Lacey and Alan Jackson stand together.

Crime prevention was another important topic raised by Lacey. “Adults have to get involved in the lives of our children. I want to stop kids from getting in crimes before they have committed them.” For the last four years, Lacey has volunteered one lunch hour a week to teach fifth-graders at Lorena Street Elementary School in Boyle Heights about the criminal justice system.

Lacey, second in command to current District Attorney Steve Cooley, also pointed out that unlike her opponent, she supports Proposition 36. Under the current Three Strikes Law, a person convicted of a felony who has two or more prior convictions for serious or violent felonies is sentenced to 25 years to life, regardless of the nature of the latest crime. To trigger the 25-years-to-life term, Proposition 36 would require that the third strike be serious or violent as well. Jackson opposes Prop 36.

Lacey: “I believe in redemption”

Almost half way through the forum Lacey described herself to the audience in one sentence: “I’m all about going after the bad guy but doing it in a fair and square manner.”

Lacey later went on to say that she believes that people have the ability and the right to reform in life. “I believe in redemption and I think that people can reform. You won´t hear that from the other candidate. I can´t give jobs, but if you sincerely want to change, I can create policies to help you leave that way of life.”

Audience member asking the candidate a question.

Once the forum concluded, Intersections asked Lacey to list the most important differences she had with Jackson. This was her response:

“Unlike my opponent, I have knowledge and experience in running the district attorney’s office. I have experience in implementing alternative sentencing courts. I also have experience with implementing training for lawyers, especially with regard to high tech crime. Finally, I am an accomplished litigator. My opponent minimizes that, but the truth is I have been kicking butt just as much as he has in the sense of keeping our community safe.”

If elected, Lacey will be the first woman, the first African American, and the first person who grew up in South L.A. to becomes District Attorney in Los Angeles County.

Who is Alan Jackson?

Born in 1965, Jackson was raised by a single mother in Texas and served as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Air Force. He left his childhood home after earning his B.A. at the University of Texas, Austin, to pursue his J.D. at Pepperdine Law School in California.

He is a seventeen-year veteran prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney´s Office, and twice named Prosecutor of the Year. As Assistant Head Deputy of the Major Crimes Division, Jackson manages the office’s elite trial teams while prosecuting his own docket of marquee cases.

Many remember him for a high-profile celebrity case he handled which brought him international attention: the successful murder prosecution in 2009, on retrial, of record-producer Phil Spector.

Although Lacey out-polled Jackson by a slender margin in the June primary election, she did not garner the 51 percent of the votes necessary to automatically win the elections. The run off will be held on November 6.

Lacey takes lead in DA race

imageTuesday night’s election gave Leimert Park native and Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey the lead in the race for Los Angeles District Attorney. She will be facing Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson in the November runoff to replace Steve Cooley when he retires.

Lacey got 203,889 votes or 31.9 per cent of the votes, while Jackson picked up 151,199 votes — 23.6 per cent.

L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who had the most name recognition and had raised the most money – more than $1.1 million in campaign funds – came in third with 142,576 votes, or 22.3 percent, so he’s out of the race.

Lacey was one of five current county prosecutors running to replace Cooley, but she was the only one with his endorsement. She was also endorsed by the Los Angeles Times and City Councilman Bernard Parks.

This morning on her Facebook election page her message was simply “WE DID IT,” along with a graph showing her in the lead.

In a statement, Jackson called the election results a victory over Trutanich, “a politician who was more concerned about winning the next office instead of winning the next case. We were outraised, outspent and outsized by the City Attorney, yet we prevailed because voters clearly want a modern prosecutor not a politician. We look forward to November where voters will once again have a choice to elect a modern prosecutor to lead the District Attorney’s office.”

OpEd:  In support of Jackie Lacey for D.A.

By Walter Melton

Jackie Lacey, one of Leimert Park’s own, is on her way to becoming The District Attorney for Los Angeles County.

imageThe Office of District Attorney, County of Los Angeles will be one of several positions and issues on the June 5 Primary Election Day ballot. The race will be absent an incumbent for the first time in 50 years since Steve Cooley, who currently holds the position, has chosen to retire and will not pursue another term. Without having to compete against an already in-place official, six candidates, including Carmen Trutanich, the City Attorney of Los Angeles, and five veteran deputy district attorneys have put in their bids to occupy the vacant seat.

The District Attorney is in essence the “lawyer for the people,” prosecuting felonies and misdemeanors in the community. The person carrying out the duties of the Los Angeles County office must understand the concerns of a diverse public with distinct economic, ethnic, cultural, generational, and class interests that is, at times, in conflict. This awareness equips the person to identify commonality in community issues, prioritize prosecution caseload and effectively manage the office while mindful of the sensibilities of all stakeholders. Moreover, the integrity of the District Attorney must be beyond reproach, a prerequisite necessary to inspire and sustain trust that the law is being administered fairly.

Pundits consider Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich the front runner in the race. Yet he has credibility issues which limit the viability of his candidacy, and if elected, his ability to perform the duties of office.

Jackie Lacey is the ideal candidate to succeed Steve Cooley as the next Los Angeles County District Attorney. She possesses a depth and breadth of experience in her twenty-six year career as a Public Safety servant unequaled by any of her peers. Lacey has extensive trial experience, including death row cases, hate crimes and child molestation cases. In addition to her trial experience, Jackie Lacey has been a member of Steve Cooley’s executive staff serving in various roles including Bureau Director in various locations. Jackie is currently the Chief Deputy District Attorney, responsible for day-to-day oversight of the largest local prosecution office in the United States.

While Jackie Lacey’s career in public office is well-documented, her upbringing in Leimert Park is not.

Her development years in the Crenshaw District community has played a large part in her ability to understand the dynamics that come into play when the ethnic and cultural demographics are continually shifting in an area.

Challenge accompanies change when new residents into a community struggle to find their way in a new environment while and while learning how to co-exist with the already established denizens of the community.

Jackie Lacey grew up in Leimert Park in the 1960’s when the Crenshaw District was adjusting to demographic changes. Previously an all-white community, the area became the destination of choice for people of color beginning in the 1950’s. Japanese families migrated to Leimert Park after their release from the World War II internment camps. Korean and Chinese families also populated the area when blacks began moving into the District in the late 1950’s and 60’s.

Jackie Lacey’s father was a City of Los Angeles Lot Cleaning employee, while her mother earned a living as a garment factory worker. Her parents shared the same dream for their daughter during the 1960’s Civil Rights era as parents today have for their children; they encouraged Jackie to become the first in her family to attend college and pursue a career in public service. She understands the dreams of parents to see their children grow up and lead productive lives and contribute to their community. Jackie Lacey also knows how parents hope that those charged with enforcing the law will keep their community safe and protect their families.

Jackie Lacey has the background, experience and attributes to become, as Current District Attorney Steve Cooley stated, “… the next great District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles.”

Support Jackey Lacey. She will administer the law fairly for our community.

Leimert Park is proud of her. The County of Los Angeles will benefit from her growing up in the Crenshaw District.