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Alan Jackson Defends TV Ad in Race for District Attorney

by Tony Medley

Alan Jackson, a candidate for Los Angeles District Attorney, was born in 1965 and was raised by a single mother in Texas. He served as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Air Force. He received his B.A. from the University of Texas and his J.D. from Pepperdine Law School. He is a seventeen year veteran of the District Attorney's office and was twice named Prosecutor of the Year. He was lead prosecutor in the case against Phil Spector.

Tony:         In your TV ad you said that you are modernizing the DAs office. What do you mean by that?

Alan:          I take a very modern prosecutor's approach to the District Attorney's Office. So much as changed over the last several decades in prosecuting cases. The law is very dynamic, ever-changing, and ever moving forward. I've been tethered to the courtroom in such a way that I've kept up with the changing law. I understand what a modern prosecution looks like as opposed to what a prosecution looked like maybe 15 to 20 years ago. I will bring that philosophy to the entirety of the DA's office. Things like familial DNA, forensic science, things that were not even in the vocabulary of a prosecutor tend to 15 years ago I've been dealing with on a daily basis for a decade and a half.

         I've trained many of the deputies on how to do a modern gang prosecution. I've literally written the book on how modern gang cases should be tried. That pamphlet that I wrote has been sanctioned by the Department of Justice and was republished by the DOJ. It has been distributed all over the country. That's an example of what I've been doing to modernize the DAs office. I've also trained deputies within the DAs office on the modern use of forensic science in a prosecution. I utilized those forensic techniques in both the investigation and prosecution of Phil Spector, in which I was the lead prosecutor.

Tony:         Then you say that you're working to keep kids out of crime in the first place. What does that mean?

Alan:          I've been working, both within the courtroom and outside the courtroom, with an eye toward juvenile justice reform and a different way of looking how to keep kids out of crime in the first place. I sit on the leadership Council of a nonprofit organization known as "partnerships for children" in Compton. That group has as its core mission to support the community in no small part to give the children opportunities that they don't otherwise have. That includes vocational training, afterschool programs, parenting programs for some of the parents in and around the community. I've been working with them in an effort to bring a prosecutor's approach to providing kids with what they need so they can make the right decisions.

Tony:         In your ad you say, speaking of Jackie Lacey, "She is a political appointee who was dishonest under oath to protect her boss." What's that about?

Alan:          Jackie Lacey was not appointed to be chief deputy district attorney in the office until after she announced her candidacy for District Attorney. She admitted when asked by the Metropolitan news if that appointment as chief deputy assisted in her candidacy, she responded, "Of course it did. It gave me responsibility and a designation that I would not otherwise have had."

Tony:         I thought that she had been the number two person in the office for 12 years?

Alan:          Absolutely not. She was made chief deputy only after she announced her candidacy a little over a year ago probably.

Tony:         What was she doing the prior 11 years?

Alan:          She was working her way through the executive management. She was a director for part of that time. She was an assistant DA for part of that time.

Tony:         How was she "dishonest under oath to protect her boss" as you allege in your ad?

Alan:          She was a named defendant in a federal suit naming her and others in the office and the office itself for antiunion conduct. She testified in one hearing that she had certain conversations with subordinates dissuading them from joining the union, saying that the union would be a "disaster," and that it would be bad for their career. That was at an ERCOM, Employee Relations COMmission hearing, and that was under oath. Several months later she went back on the witness stand and recanted the story that she told the first time. She said, no, that conversation didn't take place, that she never told the subordinate that the union would be a disaster. By the way that testimony obviously exposed District Attorney Steve Cooley and the office to enormous liability.

Tony:         Why?

Alan:          Because that's illegal. In management you cannot dissuade a subordinate from actively participating in a union. They have every right to. The case law is legion on that point. They have the right to participate in and join a union if they decide to.

Tony:         Did Steve Cooley do something wrong?

Alan:          I'm talking about exposing him and the office to liability. As the District Attorney he and the DA's office would be exposed to liability within that lawsuit based on her first testimony. She then went back six months later and recanted that very testimony. She indicated in that first testimony that she had some of these conversations with Steve. She went back and recanted that testimony and said no, she didn't tell a subordinate that it would be a disaster, she didn't tell a subordinate that it would be bad for his or her career. When she was asked for the difference between the two, why she was recanting her first testimony, her excuse was that she was testifying the first time in the afternoon and in the afternoon she has low blood sugar and she gets very confused and doesn't think clearly and therefore did not understand the questions that were being asked.

Tony:         What would be the difference between her being District Attorney and you being District Attorney?

Alan:          I think I bring a prosecutor's perspective to the office as opposed to an that of an establishment bureaucrat. That's the biggest difference between the two of us. The establishment, if you will, as all lined up behind Miss Lacey. I'm talking about the establishment politicians, people like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the big unions. Those folks have gotten behind Jackie Lacey in an almost partisan way. I, on the other hand, don't represent the establishment. I'm sort of the modern prosecutor coming in looking at it from an outside perspective looking at how to serve the office as a prosecutor, not a politician, not an administrator, and not a bureaucrat.

Tony:         She claims that she is an experienced administrator and can come into the office ready to go to work on day one, whereas it would take you a couple of years to learn the job.

Alan:          That's absolutely incorrect. Keep in mind that not only have I been in court for the last 20 years, I've been supervising one of the most elite divisions in the entire District Attorney's office, the major crimes division. I've been leading the most consequential trial team for the last 10 years.

Tony:         Do you have an official position as a supervisor?

Alan:          Yes. I'm the assistant head deputy of the major crimes division.

Tony:         How many people do you supervise?

Alan:          Since I've been the assistant head deputy, we've had a division of about 12 lawyers and another eight or so support staff.

Tony:         How long have you been doing that?

Alan:          Since about 2007. Keep in mind that Jackie Lacey complains that I haven't been in management, but I have. I would hearken back to the year 2000 when the County of Los Angeles elected a man to office who hadn't spent a single day in management, and that man is Steve Cooley. He considered himself, and ran on the platform, that he was a prosecutor above all else, not a bureaucrat and not an administrator. That's the exactly the same thing with me. It certainly did not take Steve Cooley 2 to 3 years to get up to the job. I think I have the ability to deal with what's ultimately rapidly changing the District Attorney's Office, and that is technology and law.

Tony:         Who is supporting you?

Alan:                   Former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, L.A. County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe, and Rob Bonner, a former federal judge, former head of the DEA, former head of Customs and Immigration, and former US attorney for the Central District of California. I'm also supported by more than 13 major newspapers in the County of Los Angeles, including the Daily News, the Long Beach Press Telegram, Pasadena Star News, Whittier Press Telegraph, the Daily Breeze, the Beverly Hills Courier, and the San Bernardino Tribune. They have all said that I am the independent candidate; I am the non-establishment candidate.

         The thing that I want to stress more than anything about my backing is that I am backed by thousands of police officers, by dozens of police associations in the County of Los Angeles, all the way from the Police Associations of Inglewood, El Segundo, Pasadena, Glendale, and West Covina. All those police associations are backing my candidacy. Why? Because they understand that a true prosecutor is better suited than a bureaucrat or an administrator who has not stepped foot into the courtroom for 13 years to lead our office.

Tony:         Are you going to make any changes from what Steve Cooley's doing?

Alan:          I can tell you that there will be no hard shifts one way or the other. I don't believe that it's a correct philosophy to walk into an office and start making broad sweeping changes on day one that upend what we've been doing for years. It's been running relatively well for years, but there are things that we could be doing better. I want to focus on public integrity, violent crime, and modernizing the DA's office from a technological standpoint as well as a prosecutorial standpoint. And something we've already talked about, stopping crime before it starts, inviting others, other department heads, working with other elected officials to embrace community outreach that would give kids the option and alternatives they need from a preventative standpoint.

Tony:         Steve Cooley says one of his proudest accomplishments is how he's increased the public integrity section.

Alan:          Absolutely, and I applaud him for that. I think it needs to be focused on even more. And given what we've seen as of late, I think we need to pay very, very close attention to public corruption cases and how were dealing with those cases on an ongoing basis with the public integrity division.