Two weeks after taking office, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey… (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times )
Two weeks after taking office, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has reassigned a political rival she beat in the November election from a prestigious high-profile job to a post where he will no longer try cases -- a move he contends is a backward step for his career.
In his new post, Alan Jackson will supervise deputy district attorneys handling what he described as "garden variety felony" and misdemeanor cases rather than the complex, high-profile murder cases he directed and tried for years in the office's elite major crimes division.
The reassignment comes despite Lacey's describing Jackson during and after the election as an "outstanding trial attorney." A nearly 18-year veteran of the office, Jackson was named as "prosecutor of the year" in 2010 by the county's bar association.
He was one of two prosecutors who won the conviction of famed music producer Phil Spector in 2009, marking the office's first victory in a celebrity murder trial in more than 40 years. He also won a conviction in the cold case murders of motor racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife. Among his current workload was the capital murder case of a former Armenian army soldier accused of killing an 8-year-old girl, her mother and father, and a prostitute.
An office spokeswoman described Jackson's transfer as a "lateral move" that had nothing to do with the campaign. Jean Guccione said more than half of the office's managers were reassigned on Friday as part of a shake-up by the new administration.
Jackson's salary, title and office location in downtown Los Angeles will remain the same, she said.
"This is not retaliation," Guccione said. "This new assignment provides an excellent opportunity for him to share his courtroom experience with other prosecutors."
Jackson, however, disputed that the transfer was a lateral move.
"It's a move backward in my career," Jackson said. "This decision is specifically designed to remove me from the courtroom and from access to complex and high-profile litigation."
Jackson stopped short of saying he believed the new assignment, which takes effect Jan. 7, was punishment for his criticism of Lacey during the campaign, but he said he could think of no other reason for the transfer.
"The only thing that has changed from the time I have been trying these cases ... is that I ran for office against her," he said. "Am I disappointed? Absolutely. Not just for me, but I'm disappointed for what it says about the mission of the district attorney's office."
Lacey, a registered Democrat who had the backing of incumbent Steve Cooley, beat Jackson, a registered Republican, in the Nov. 6 runoff by 55% to 45%. The nonpartisan campaign grew testy at times, with Jackson running a television commercial in which he referred to conflicting testimony Lacey gave at employee grievance hearings and accused her of being "dishonest under oath to protect her boss," Cooley.
After the election, Lacey acknowledged that she had felt hurt by the accusation but again called Jackson "a very talented trial lawyer" and promised that she would not retaliate against him.
"I'm not a vindictive person. I'm not a mean person. I don't believe in wasting energy on that kind of thing," she told The Times during an interview two weeks ago. "If he chooses to remain in the office, we will find an appropriate spot."
Lacey, however, did not say that Jackson would remain in the high-profile major crimes division, where he has worked for nearly a decade and most recently served as assistant head deputy.
"The choice won't be up to him. It will be up to us," she said. "I think in this office, you benefit from a variety of assignments."
Jackson on Saturday said he had not decided whether he would remain with the district attorney's office for the long term but added that he would work hard in his new assignment.