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Alan Jackson: Action Figure

DA candidate Jackson takes on a full docket--
and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich

"Trutanich's record cannot stand up against mine," the prosecutor in the lime green tie tells me.

One of LA County's top prosecutors, Alan Jackson entered the race for District Attorney of Los Angeles County a few months back. He has an early leg up in fundraising on some other would-be opponents. The election is still eleven months away--a long way to go. But the field is fairly set, and everyone knows that LA's own Carmen Trutanich is the 800-pound gorilla not yet sprung from the cage, waiting for the right moment to pound his chest and assert himself.

I remind Jackson, a self-described centrist Republican, that there is enough of a stigma in the County against such that Carmen Trutanich switched party affiliations previous to his successful City race.

"That's not me," Jackson says. "I don't do that."

Jackson feels his longstanding experience in the DA's office, including time in gang units and on high profile capital cases, has prepped him for the top job. A graduate of Pepperdine School of Law (who calls Pepperdine's emeritus Dean of Law Ron Phillips a mentor), Jackson is a political centrist.

The lawyer--very youthful-looking at 46--thinks his boss Steve Cooley has generally done a great job while DA. He doesn't at all begrudge the present District Attorney siding with prosecutor Jackie Lacey in the race. In changing the office, he may like to attempt to optimize the work of the 1,000 attorneys serving the County especially by implementing specialty-training programs, drawing from attorney's union input to provide the tools they need to make transitions when called to do so.

"We're all considered fungible," Jackson says of working for the County as a DA. "Generally, we keep it running well." But he thinks organizing the office around special training can help make the office more efficient still.

This all stands in sharp contrast to Trutanich's spotty track record organizing the LA's City Attorney office. Trutanich has been beleaguered by relations with the very people he most directly serves: LA's City Council. Jackson conversely sees himself as a person who can work cross-agency relationships very well, an important element of the crime-fighting equation.

Time after time, he draws distinctions between him and Trutanich.

"People in my office are always going to be welcome to speak truth to power," he insists.

Raised by a single mom in Texas, Jackson joined the military before studying law. He appears to have boundless energy--at one point earlier this spring he was simultaneously working six different murder cases. He has worked in the County's high-intensity gang unit, and published monographs on forensic based evidence and gang crimes.

"Do you need some paper?" he asks at one point, watching me rifle through some notes. Even while talking a mile a minute, Jackson gives the impression of being fully engaged in the moment, every moment, and misses few things.

The Lily Burk case. The Phil Spector case. The prosecutor who secured convictions in some of LA's most diabolical crimes in recent memory knows exactly how good he is at convicting criminals and convincing juries.

But as a centrist Republican, can he also convince voters?

"Criminals have no party affiliation," he says he tells rooms of Democrats. He also intends to hire "the best in the business" to take his message County-wide.