The LA Podcast
< District Attorney

Name: Jacquelyn Phillips Lacey

DOB: February 27, 1957

Took Office: 2012

Relevant Relatives: Her husband David pulled a gun on Dr. Melina Abdullah

Notable Past Roles:

  • Assistant DA (under Cooley) and Deputy DA under three previous DAs (She has been in the DA’s office since 1986)

Who does she represent?
Technically she represents the County and the State of California. She oversees crimes in LA County though some cities in LA County have their own prosecutors (like LA city, Pasadena and Long Beach). Lacey’s office still prosecutes felonies for these areas, but the city attorney’s may prosecute misdemeanors.

Where’s she from?
Jackie Lacey grew up in Crenshaw. She talks about this experience a lot when asked about how she’s handling racial bias and acts of violence by the police. She went to high school, college and law school here. She notes she was the first in her family to go to college (at UC Irvine) and she got her J.D. at USC.

How did she get here?
Lacey worked in the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office for a couple years but she made a move to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in 1986 and she has been there ever since.

What does she care about?
Understanding Jackie Lacey’s motivations are difficult as she insists that she is not a politician but a prosecutor. In the DA’s office, they are one and the same. Her track record makes it clear that she is beholden to special interests, most notably the LA Police Protective League. But it’s hard to say if she wants that political power to seek higher office or just hang tight as the DA forever. There are no term limits after all.

When asked about her work, Lacey likens herself to the victim of crimes rather than seeing a more complex scenario where everyone is a victim of the system. She takes a heavy hand on some prosecutions, successfully pursuing death row convictions in several cases. It’s even on her LinkedIn profile. But, famously, Lacey does not prosecute cops. During her time in office, over 620 people have been killed by local police and her office has prosecuted only two of those cases. 

Overall, during a time when cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia are electing more progressive prosecutors, Lacey is decades behind in how to think about justice in a much more nuanced, restorative, holistic way.