Veteran Prosecutors to Face Off In Race for County DA

By Elizabeth Marcellino, City News Service

Jackie Lacey and Alan Jackson — two Los Angeles County prosecutors — will face each other in November in a race to replace their boss after L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich failed to make the cut even though he had more money and name-recognition than they did, election results showed Wednesday.

The top vote-getter in Tuesday’s race was Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey. With 100 percent of votes counted, she had 203,889 votes, or 31.9 per cent, according to election results released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County registrar of voters.

In second place, guaranteeing his place in the runoff, was Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson with 151,199 votes — 23.6 per cent. Trutanich had more than $1.1 million in campaign funds, the strongest name recognition of all the candidates and a number of important endorsements, but he ended up in third place with 142,576 votes, or 22.3 percent.

Jackson sounded almost as if he had won the whole contest when he announced victory over Trutanich early Wednesday morning, framing the contest between the two as a David-versus-Goliath affair.

“We see tonight as a huge victory,” he said in a statement. “The Jackson campaign took on Carmen Trutanich and saved the people of Los Angeles County from 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.”
Lacey was one of five current county prosecutors running to replace retiring District Attorney Steve Cooley, but she was the only one with the endorsement of her boss.

A Los Angeles native and USC Law School graduate, Lacey has worked for the D.A.’s office since 1986. She has prosecuted thousands of crimes and tried about 60 felony cases to jury verdicts, including 11 homicides and the county’s first trial of a race-motivated hate crime, according to her campaign. She has emphasized her management skills and low-key temperament as key to leading the District Attorney’s Office.

Lacey also said she has overseen crime-fighting initiatives focused on preventing animal cruelty, prosecuting graffiti and assigning gun cases to jurisdictions likely to obtain maximum criminal penalties. She had the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times and City Councilman Bernard Parks, a co-endorsement (with Jackson) by the Daily News, and the support of several other news outlets.

Trutanich was endorsed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sheriff Lee Baca, six Los Angeles city councilmen and most of the largest labor unions in the region, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Former Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal made robo-calls on his behalf.

But he also had to contend with negative press for his broken 2008 campaign promise to serve out his full term as city attorney before seeking further office.

Trutanich was elected city attorney in 2008 and said he has fought gangs and worked to confiscate guns while saving taxpayer dollars. The city attorney’s office has won 82 of 89 trials during his tenure and cut outside legal fees by 70 percent, according to his campaign website.

Trutanich grew up in the South Bay and earned an MBA from USC before pursuing a law degree from the South Bay University College of Law. He worked in the district attorney’s gang unit and later focused on environmental litigation, eventually starting a private practice.

Jackson may be best known for his murder prosecution of music producer Phil Spector in 2009 and his appearances as a legal analyst on shows such as NBC Dateline’s “Unsolved Case Squad.” Raised in Texas, Jackson served in the Air Force and then went on to the University of Texas and Pepperdine University School of Law. He has worked for the D.A.’s office for 17 years and is the assistant head deputy of the office’s Major Crimes Division.

Jackson led prosecutions of nearly 70 felonies, nearly half of which were homicides, including the killings of racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife. In interviews, Jackson has said he would seek to repeal AB109 — the state’s move to reassign responsibility for low-level offenders to counties — and allow counties to contract with out-of-state correctional facilities. He has the endorsements of County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and several police unions.

The Peace Officers Research Association, the state’s largest law enforcement group, endorsed both Jackson and Lacey. The Daily News co-endorsement of Lacey and Jackson offered the opinion that the winner should be “anyone but Carmen (Trutanich).”

Lacey is anticipating a hard fight to the finish, saying Tuesday she thought there would be “blood on the floor” before the race was over in November.

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June 7, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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