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League of Women Voters of California
|Full Biography for Lauren Weis|
Because I was raised in South Central Los Angeles for the first twelve years of my life, I was immersed at an early age in ethnic and racial diversity. (I am fortunate to continue to have diversity in my professional relationships and many close friendships.) Having traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, East Africa, Asia, Mexico, and Central and South America, I have gained a respect for cultural contribution as well as the common denominators in all people. Those experiences contributed to my deep appreciation for the framework of our judicial system and its protections for everyone.
I attended public schools in Los Angeles and Inglewood. I was a Valedictorian of Inglewood High School, graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in history from UCLA, and received my J.D. from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles.
My entire legal career has been devoted to public service, beginning with one year in the California Attorney General's Office (Civil Division), and continuing for twenty-three years in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. As a deputy district attorney, I prosecuted hundreds of felonies in various pre-trial stages and took over forty serious and violent felony cases to jury trial. I am currently a Head Deputy District Attorney. In January of 1993, I was appointed as Acting Head Deputy of the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Division and served as such for two years before being promoted to a Grade V Head Deputy position in that Division. I remained there for another two years, and then served as a Head Deputy in four additional assignments: the Torrance Branch (one year); the Airport Branch (formerly the Santa Monica Branch, three years); the Workers' Compensation Fraud Division (eight months); and presently, Central Trials (since September 4, 2001).
During my tenure at the Santa Monica/Airport Branch, I directly supervised thirty-four attorneys and a large support staff. I had management oversight of the Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills, and Malibu Area Offices. As Head Deputy, I oversaw all prosecutorial functions in one of the largest and most visible courts in Los Angeles County. My responsibilities included supervision of all misdemeanor and felony trials, all felony case filings, and all settlement negotiations, including direct responsibility for every "three strikes" case. I was a hands-on manager, training my trial deputies, discussing case law and strategy with them, and observing their performance in court. I was also responsible for ensuring that office policy was followed and for making all staffing assignments. I made all death penalty recommendations for special circumstances cases arising in the West District. I met and conferred on a regular basis with judges, court administrators, law enforcement personnel, defense attorneys, victims, witnesses, and members of the public. (Currently, as a Head Deputy in Central Trials, I have primarily the same duties and responsibilities, but with a smaller staff to supervise.)
For the majority of my career in the District Attorney's Office, I specialized in the prosecution of sexual assault and child abuse cases. In the late eighties, I was assigned to a supervisory position as the Deputy-in-Charge of the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Division, where I continued to try jury trials in addition to my administrative responsibilities. At the end of 1992, I handled the first DNA case in the West Los Angeles area. In preparation for a required Kelly/Frye pre-trial admissibility hearing, I read thousands of pages of expert testimony. By 1997, I had, as sole counsel, tried to verdict between five and ten misdemeanors and more than forty felony jury trials, all of them serious or violent felonies, including two death-penalty murder cases and a gang-related homicide. I prosecuted my last two felony jury trials in 1995 and 1996 while discharging my duties as the Head Deputy of the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Division.
I was a member of the Los Angeles County sub-committee of the California Senate Judiciary Committee established to present proposals concerning rape and the medical protocol for sexual assault victims. Recently, I was a member of the committee that redesigned the rape kits used by every law enforcement agency and hospital in Los Angeles County to more effectively collect evidence in "drug-rape" cases. I have served as an instructor for the California District Attorneys Association in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and handling media relations in high profile cases. Lecturing on a national level, I have taught law, crime investigation, and trial strategy to other prosecution and law enforcement agencies. I have given training to staff members of various community hospitals regarding sexual assault and child molestation interview techniques and the legal issues associated with these types of cases. From 1993 to 1997, I delivered speeches to California State (Fullerton) College students on the history and development of sexual assault laws.
I am a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Executive Committee of the Criminal Justice Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the California District Attorneys Association, and the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. I am a past president of the League of Women Prosecutors.
My honors include an award in 1999 from the Century City Bar Association, naming me as "Prosecutor of the Year." I was only the seventh woman in the history of the District Attorney's Office to receive an appointment to a Grade V position. In both 1997 and 1999, I was honored for community outreach presentations I made to the Brandeis University National Women's Committee on sexual assault and domestic violence issues. My name was inscribed on bookplates placed in Learned Research Journals of the Brandeis University Library. In 1990, I was cited in the October issue of California Lawyer as "One of the Most Effective Prosecutors in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office" and was noted to handle some of the toughest cases.
The Chief of the Santa Monica Police Department formally nominated me for the 1987 "Governor's Victims Service Award." Also in that year, I was formally nominated for the "Humanitarian Award" given by the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW) for my contributions on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
I currently reside in Santa Monica with my husband, Dr. Peter Birnstein, a family practice physician, my seventeen year old stepson, Elliott, and our dogs, Shaq and Kobe.
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: February 19, 2002 10:45
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