LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson will likely face off in November to replace Steve Cooley as Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Nearly 99.9 percent of the ballots show Lacey with 31.6 percent of the vote, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson with 23.5 percent, and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich with 22.8 percent.
Lacey is one of five current prosecutors running to replace her boss, but the only one with Cooley’s endorsement. Trutanich had more than $1.1 million to fund his campaign and the strongest name recognition of all the candidates, but early votes showed he was battling Jackson for a spot on November’s run-off ballot for the seat.
Lacey, a Los Angeles native and graduate of USC Law School, 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 has the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times and City Councilman Bernard Parks, a co-endorsement (with Alan 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 even made robo-calls on his behalf.
But he was also fighting 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).”
Early returns show the remaining candidates well behind, with Deputy District Attorney Danette E. Meyers with 13.1 percent of the vote, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace with five percent and Deputy District Attorney John L. Breault III with 3.9 percent. All had much less success in raising money to fund their campaigns.
Trutanich raised more than $1.1 million, more than double Jackson’s last reported $454,554 and Lacey’s $347,520. Meyers and Grace lagged farther behind at $164,226 and $81,511, and Breault has not reported any fundraising, according to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerks office.
Meyers has the endorsement of former D.A. Gil Garcetti and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Though the race is a non-partisan one, Meyers has highlighted her Democratic policy positions in interviews. She has said she would seek major changes to the juvenile justice system and focus on community outreach to reduce crime.
Meyers, a native Angeleno, received her law degree from Howard University School of Law after graduating from UCSD. In 25 years as a deputy D.A., Meyers has tried nearly 200 jury cases, including 42 homicides and six death penalty cases, according to her campaign. She led the prosecution of actress Lindsay Lohan on drunken driving charges. Meyers has held several leadership positions in the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Grace is in the office’s Major Crimes Division and has tried nearly 70 homicides during his 23-year tenure, including serial killer Chester Turner, who was convicted of murdering 10 women between 1987 and 1998 and is now facing trial for four other slayings.
Grace was raised in San Bernardino and earned his law degree from Loyola Law School after graduating from UCLA, where he serves on the board of the Black Alumni Association. His campaign highlights his interest in battling corruption and fraud and his work fighting gang and family violence. Grace has a history in local politics, having served as a precinct captain for Tom Bradley’s gubernatorial campaign. He has a number of endorsements, including from former mayor of Inglewood Daniel Tabor and former L.A. City Controller Rick Tuttle.
Breault has the longest record of service in the D.A.’s office, at 43 years and counting. Born in Burbank, Breault got his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center after graduating from Loyola University. He has worked as the deputy in charge in Beverly Hills, Culver City, West Los Angeles and Malibu, among several other positions, and led the prosecution to convict serial “Trash Bag Killer” Patrick Wayne Kearney.
Breault ran a quiet campaign, does not have a campaign website and has not publicized any endorsements. He said campaign debates about political issues were misleading because the role of the D.A.’s office is to enforce the law that’s on the books today. Breault said he would lead by giving trial attorneys the respect and discretion they need to run their cases, without micro-managing.
As for those political issues, the November election may include a vote on a measure to abolish the death penalty, though a legal challenge has been filed to pull it from the ballot. The candidates are split on the matter. Grace and Meyers agree with abolishing the penalty, saying it just doesn’t work, while Jackson would maintain it with changes to reduce delays in appeals. Lacey, Trutanich and Breault would keep it in place.
In order to win based on the primary results alone, one candidate would have to garner more than 50 percent of the vote.
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