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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Politics

USC Alumna Breaks Barriers in LA District Attorney Victory

Jackie Lacey becomes first female and first African-American District Attorney in Los Angeles.

Jackie Lacey made history this election by becoming the first African-American and first female District Attorney of Los Angeles County.

Lacey, the chief deputy district attorney, defeated Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson by a wide margin -  55 percent of the vote. Lacey is replacing outgoing District Attorney Steve Cooley and will assume her duties on Dec. 3, 2012.

Jackie Lacey defeated Alan Jackson, buttressed by a long career at the District Attorney's office and the endorsement of her predecessor, Steve Cooley. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)
Jackie Lacey defeated Alan Jackson, buttressed by a long career at the District Attorney's office and the endorsement of her predecessor, Steve Cooley. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Cooley endorsed Lacey for the county's top prosecutor post, but Wednesday morning emphasized that despite the groundbreaking nature of the victory, merit was the most important factor.

"It's not about race or gender," said Cooley. "This is the best candidate -- qualifications, qualifications, qualifications, experience."

Jackson, who is best known as the prosecutor for the murder trial of Phil Spector, garnered 45 percent of the vote. Lacey said Jackson was "a fine trial lawyer'' and that she hopes to work with him. Jackson echoed that he plans to work with his former rival.

"We didn't get all the way tonight, but we are far from done," said Jackson in a statement on Tuesday.  "We will continue to work together because everything is at stake."

During the race, Jackson argued that his courtroom experience made him the best for the job, while Lacey argued that her 12 years of management positions over the course of her 16 years as a prosecutor made her more qualified for the post.

The race became aggressive at times, with both sides swapping barbs. Jackson accused Lacey of lying under oath in a labor dispute involving the District Attorney's office, while Lacey accused Jackson of lying about a fundraising event at which the party host was a convicted felon.

Lacey, who graduated from USC's Gould School of Law, has worked for the District Attorney's office since 1986 and tried more than 60 felony cases to verdict. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, Calif. Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa all endorsed Lacey.

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