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Full Biography for Steve Cooley
In the midst of his historic third consecutive term as Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley has realized his goal of establishing the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office as the premier local prosecutorial agency in the nation. Mr. Cooley has hired bright, enthusiastic lawyers to join court-tested veterans. His staff includes recognized national experts in areas such as DNA evidence, public corruption, foreign extradition, fraud and gang prosecution.
The son of an FBI agent, Mr. Cooley is a career prosecutor. He joined LADA in 1973 as a law clerk and rose through the ranks. Nearly three decades later, he was elected District Attorney in 2000 by a landslide. He was overwhelmingly re-elected four years later. In 2008, he became the first Los Angeles County District Attorney in 70 years to be re-elected to a third consecutive term.
In his first term, Mr. Cooley led a massive reorganization of LADA based on his experience there and his nearly six years as a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. The changes to the nation's largest prosecutorial agency are providing unparalleled breadth and quality of prosecution efforts. He has developed a team equally capable of fighting crime in the streets and in the corridors of power.
The District Attorney has been relentless in his pursuit of public corruption and of lawbreakers within the justice system. He created the Public Integrity Division that has prosecuted politicians whose misconduct had gone unpunished for years. For his work in this area and others, Mr. Cooley and LADA have received numerous awards and commendations. He also formed the Justice System Integrity Division, which holds judges, attorneys, police officers and others working in the justice system accountable if they break the law. Its motto is, "No one is above the law, especially those sworn to uphold it."
Under Mr. Cooley's leadership, the use of DNA and other new techniques in solving so-called "cold cases" has been given priority. LADA co-authored Proposition 69, California's all-felon DNA database law.
The District Attorney led the international effort to bring justice to the families of murder victims whose killers fled to Mexico. He and his staff launched a massive campaign to pressure Mexican authorities to change a 2001 Mexican Supreme Court decision that barred the extradition of killers facing life sentences in the United States. Key to his efforts was the creation of the Web site EscapingJustice.com that highlighted the issue by telling the stories of victims whose killers fled to Mexico. In 2005, the Mexican Supreme Court overturned the previous decision and allowed criminals facing life terms to be extradited. LADA has since returned several murderers, including the killer of Sheriff's Deputy David March.
To advance public safety, the District Attorney created the Criminal Justice Institute to showcase LADA experts who provide high quality training programs to justice system professionals.
Mr. Cooley directs more than 1,000 attorneys, nearly 300 investigators and more than 800 clerical and support personnel who prosecute 60,000 felonies and 130,000 misdemeanors annually. He oversees an annual operating budget of more than $330 million.
A native of Los Angeles, Mr. Cooley obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Los Angeles and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California Law Center. He and his wife Jana have been married for over 35 years and have two adult children.
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