Chief Deputy D. A. Jacquelyn “Jackie” Lacey
Deputy D.A. Jacquelyn Lacey has entered the race for D.A. of Los Angeles County
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
As Chief Deputy District Attorney, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Lacey is second-in-command to the District Attorney of Los Angeles County. She is a career prosecutor having practiced criminal law in the county for almost a quarter of a century. Lacey has prosecuted thousands of criminal cases, since she has been in the D.A.’s office and has tried approximately 60 felony cases to jury verdicts, including 11 murder cases. In addition, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the D.A.’s office which is the nation’s largest local prosecutorial office with about 1,000 attorneys, 300 peace officers and more than 600 support staff members.
Now, Lacey is running to replace District Attorney Steve Cooley who intends to retire at the end of his current term in 2012. She said, “My twenty five years of experience in the DA’s office as a trial prosecutor and as part of a top flight management team qualifies me for the job I am seeking… to be the District Attorney of the County of Los Angeles. I believe the Los Angeles D. A.’s office should be vigorous in its pursuit of justice, but always in a manner that is fair, even-handed and thoughtful,” Lacey also said.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lacey attended public schools, graduated from Dorsey High School and became the first in her family to attend college. In rapid succession she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1979 from the University of California, Irvine (UCI); graduated from the USC Law School in 1982; and passed the State Bar of California in 1983.
After working for about a year at a small Century City law firm, Lacey began her career as a criminal prosecutor in the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office before joining the Los Angeles County D.A.’s office, where worked through the ranks eventually becoming an integral part of the executive management team.
Speaking to the Sentinel, Lacey said, “I’m running for D.A. because I have an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, and judgment and vision that I believe will impact and improve our justice system. I believe anyone who leads the largest prosecutorial office in the nation, should be someone with my qualifications, who is able to bridge gaps between people, who is a good listener, and who has the foresight to see changes ahead, and respond to those changes.”
Lacey seemed very forthright and secured relative to the task that laid ahead for the new district attorney. When asked about her goals and objectives, she went right into it saying, “I realize that because of prison overcrowding, we’ll be looking for alternatives and ways to address crime; and I will be looking for alternative-sentencing mechanisms for non-serious, non-violent offenders.”
In reference to working with her counterpart at the state level: the attorney general, she continued, “With regard to our county (Los Angeles), basically, we are running out of room in the state prisons and the county jails, and it is time that we look at ways in which we can more efficiently address crime and look at long range solutions–particularly at those who may be suffering from un-addressed mental health issues.
Referring to the governor’s move to un-burden the state prison system by releasing non-violent offenders to the county jails system, Lacey said, “I am very concerned about that, but I’m also a realist, and if this is where we’re heading, I would like to be prepared for it in a way of finding out: what is the percentage of the (prison) population, he’s going to send our way; what kind of resources and money they (the state government) are going to send our way; and I want to start working with the department so that we don’t have people coming back in the community committing horrible crimes against the community. It’s going to take some planning and some real changes, and someone who has knowledge of the criminal justice system.”
To fully understand someone who is about to seek elected office, it is important to get a feeling from others who know that person. The Sentinel reached out to the well-known, celebrity attorney, Shawn Chapman-Holley, for her comments on Lacey whom she has known for quite some time. Chapman-Holley said, “In almost 25 years of practicing criminal law in L.A. county, I have never heard a negative word said about Jackie. Jackie is well-liked and highly respected by judges, defense attorneys and other prosecutors. As you might imagine, this is practically unheard of.”
Finally, she said, “I look forward in the coming weeks and months to meeting voters across Los Angeles County.”
Lacey has joined a crowded field of those who want to be the next district attorney of the county including City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Deputy District Attorneys Danette Meyers, Bobby Grace and Alan Jackson. However, at present, Lacey seems to be the only one who is endorsed by the current District Attorney, Steve Cooley.