Sisters-in-law: District Attorneys Joyce Dudley of Santa Barbara County, left, and Jackie Lacey of Los Angeles County. (Dudley family photo)
(Note from Noozhawk: The following comment was co-written by the co-signers.)
A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everyone else.
Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey is that stronger woman.
It's no wonder it was Lacey who was elected the first African American and first female prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for 162 years. She is a woman of dignity, fairness and grace who carries out her duties with calm professionalism and a deep sense of personal responsibility.
As elected district attorneys, we are a diverse group across California. We're mothers, sisters, partners, wives, members of the LGBTQ community, independents, Republicans, Democrats. We live in rural areas, metropolitan areas and everywhere in between, and we all agree we can support Lacey in her re-election on November 3rd.
Understanding who Lacey is shows why she is an extraordinary woman, leader, and prosecutor.
Lacey was born to a brave woman: her mother, Addie Dunn. Dunn was one of 14 kids who grew up in a small town in Georgia.
In the early 1950s, Dunn regularly saw her alcoholic father physically abuse her mother. At 17 she had had enough and reported the violence. Police told their parents that it was Dunn, Lacey's mother, who was in "trouble" and had to be sent away. On her advice, her parents sold the family cow, put Dunn on a train, and sent her to California to live with relatives she barely knew.
Dunn dared to tell the truth and changed the course of history.
Her mother's courage became a beacon for Lacey's life's journey as a woman and as a prosecutor: Find the strength to stand up for yourself and gain even more strength to stand up for others.
Lacey has been doing just that for over 34 years. Like her mother, she has faced extraordinary obstacles: racism and inequality, both in her personal and professional life; Criticism of compliance with facts and the law when making decisions; personal attacks and even death threats. Lacey never staggered or stumbled; she always puts her oath before her.
Lacey joined the prosecution in 1986. Within two weeks of joining, she knew she had found her calling. She understood that being a prosecutor was a noble job that enabled her to represent the wonderful diversity of her community.
As a prosecutor, she has successfully tried some of the most violent crimes while showing compassion for the most vulnerable victims and their families: victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, and those left behind in murder cases.
When asked why she was looking for the job of a top public prosecutor, she simply says, "Victims of crime, 80 percent of which are black people living in underserved communities, need a prosecutor to look after them."
As an African American woman, Lacey has often encountered racism and inequality. During her college days, when she got an "A" on a piece of paper, a white teaching assistant sarcastically asked, "Whose paper did you copy?"
Shortly after she was elected prosecutor-elected for the country's largest public prosecutor, Lacey and her security team got on a plane when a flight attendant looked at her and asked politely, "Is she in custody?"
Her passion for the most vulnerable in her community, including people of color, is perhaps best shown in her persecution in 1998 of a group of white skinheads who beat an African American homeless man to death with a tire iron.
During this trial, the family appeared to assist the defendants. no one appeared for the victim. Lacey alone became his voice for justice. She had the courage to stand up for someone the rest of the world had forgotten.
Lacey's passion and persistence in standing up for others didn't stop in the courtroom. Their commitment to seeking justice for all and improving everyone's lives has earned their national respect. One only has to see her innovative work to understand why she is nationally known.
She pioneered the Los Angeles County Criminal Justice Mental Health Project and developed alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders with mental illness. Your leadership set an example for the counties in this country.
She developed de-escalation training for police officers and dispatchers in dealing with people in mental crises. This training gained national recognition.
She founded the California District Attorneys Association's Diversity Project to attract ethnically and culturally diverse prosecutors to our profession.
She campaigned for the fight against human trafficking and in 2013 established a specialized department for human trafficking. As a result, it tripled the number of indictments charged with selling people – mostly women and children – for sexual exploitation.
These are just a few examples of Lacey's innovative programs.
There is still a lot to be done in criminal justice. Lacey has the passion, the courage, the experience and the commitment to continue this important work.
Like her mother, Lacey has faced history and obstacles all her life.
As a woman, she stood up for herself. She stood up for everyone else.
As an African American, she stood up for herself. She stood up for everyone else.
As the first African-American district attorney in Los Angeles, she stood up for herself. She stood up for everyone else.
As elected district attorneys from across California, we support Jackie Lacey's re-election as district attorney. We encourage the good citizens of Los Angeles County to help too.
Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County District Attorney
Krishna Abrams, Solano District Attorney
Stephanie Bridgett, Shasta District Attorney
Birgit Fladager, Stanislaus District Attorney
Maggie Fleming, Humboldt District Attorney
Lori Frugoli, Marin District Attorney
Sandra Grovan, Sierra County District Attorney
Allison Haley, Napa County District Attorney
Candace Hooper, District Attorney for San Benito
Amanda Hopper, Sutter County District Attorney
Laura Krieg, Tuolumne District Attorney
Susan Krones, Lake County District Attorney
Kimberly Lewis, Merced County District Attorney
Katherine Micks, Del Norte District Attorney
Sally Moreno, District Attorney for Madera
Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney for Alameda
Jeannine Pacioni, Monterey District Attorney
Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney
Melyssah Rios, Lassen District Attorney
Anne Marie Schubert, District Attorney for Sacramento
Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno District Attorney
Sommer Stephan, District Attorney for San Diego
Barbara Yook, District Attorney for Calaveras
Cynthia Zimmer, District Attorney at heart
– Joyce Dudley is the Santa Barbara County District Attorney. The opinions expressed are their own.