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.

Race for Los Angeles County DA getting crowded

The election for Los Angeles County District Attorney is still more than a year away, but the race is already starting to shape up. Many people — including current D.A. Steve Cooley himself — may have expected Cooley to be sitting in the California Attorney General’s office by now, but he lost to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris in the November 2010 election. Cooley has not yet said whether he will run for a fourth term as D.A., only that he would consider seeking reelection if no qualified candidates come forward.

As of March 14, there are five candidates who have officially tossed their hats into the ring. It is believed that L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich will run, but he hasn’t officially declared. All of the declared candidates so far are from the D.A.’s office.

Bobby Grace
image Prosecutor Bobby Grace is the latest candidate to enter the race. He has been in the DA’s office since he graduated from Loyola Law School 23 years ago He is now a prosecutor in the Major Crimes Division. Grace says he has prosecuted more than 60 murder cases. In 1996, while he was in the Hardcore Gang Division, he prosecuted Calvin Broadus (aka Snoop Doggy Dogg) and his bodyguard for murder. In 2002, The Association of Deputy District Attorneys awarded Grace the “Pursuit of Justice Award” for convicting Los Angeles minister Henry Hayes, who was accused of murdering his wife and young daughter.

Alan Jackson

Prosecutor Alan Jackson was the first candidate to declare his candidacy for D.A. He serves as Assistant Head Deputy of the Major Crimes Division. imageIn his 16 years in the D.A.’s office, Jackson prosecuted music producer Phil Specter on murder charges and the accused murderer of high school student Lily Burk. He was named Prosecutor of the Year in 2009 and 2010. He got off to an early start on major fundraising efforts, collecting almost $114,000 in campaign donations in December. However, he is a Republican running in a solidly Democratic county.

Jacquelyn Lacey
Jacquelyn “Jackie” Lacey is the third ranking administrator in the D.A.’s office and thought to be the closest to Cooley. Lacey grew up in the Crenshaw District and attended Dorsey High School, though she now lives in the Northridge area. She has been a prosecutor in the D.A.’s office for 24 years. Her bio says she is spearheading the movement in the D.A.’s office to bring formal leadership training to everyone who supervises prosecutors. If elected, she would be the first African-American and first female D.A. in L.A. County.

Danette Meyers
Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers has been with the D.A.’s office for 24 years. She has served as a prosecutor in the Career Criminal Unit, the Special Trials Division of the Van Nuys Branch Office and the Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit. Meyers is handling the prosecution of Lindsay Lohan on charges of stealing a necklace. Lohan has claimed that Meyers is “out to get” her. In all, Meyers has prosecuted some 200 jury trials. If elected, she would be the first African-American and first female D.A. in L.A. County.
Update March 8: Former DA Gil Garcetti endorsed Meyers calling her “a leader, a visionary and a person who clearly understands and accepts the responsibilities of being the elected district attorney heading an office of 1,000 prosecutors.”

Mario Trujillo
Deputy District Attorney Mario Trujillo is the newest candidate to declare. He made the announcement at the Mexican American Bar Association installation dinner on February 5, where he was honored as Attorney of the Year by the South East District Bar Association. Trujillo lives in Downey; he’s been with the D.A.’s office for 14 years; he now manages the D.A.’s Bellflower Office. He is a former president of the Mexican American Bar Association.

The Los Angeles Dragnet Blog identifies five or six other people who might run, such City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Former City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Check out Los Angeles Dragnet for more extensive discussion on the DA race.

The LA Weekly also has coverage of the candidates.

Kamala Harris opens South L.A. office

imagePhoto by Daphne Bradford

Kamala Harris was in Los Angeles on Sunday to open her L.A. field office in her bid to become the first African-American woman elected to statewide office in California. The San Francisco district attorney is running against her L.A. counterpart, Republican Steve Cooley. The candidates are polar opposites on many issues: Cooley is a veteran prosecutor who has built his reputation on fighting corruption; Harris is a reformer and has made a cornerstone of her career reducing the recidivism rate among prison inmates. Cooley supports the death penalty; Harris opposes it. (Click here for a Q&A on KALW on where Harris and Cooley stand on the death penalty). About the only issue on which they find common ground is their opposition to legalizing marijuana.

Harris’ Los Angeles office is located at 5442 Crenshaw Boulevard.