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Hastings Alumni Mag-Spring 2013

{ trailblazer } UC HASTINGS 23 Students Association (BLSA), in a regional post for BLSA’s national parent organization, and as an advocate for greater campus diversity as part of the Legal Education Opportunity Program. After law school, Harris signed on with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office as deputy district attorney. In 1998, she joined the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where, among other posts, she led the Career Criminal Unit. She was elected district attorney in 2003, defeating two-term incumbent Terence Hallinan; she held firm to her stance against the death penalty while in that post, winning an unopposed second term in 2007. In 2010, voters chose Harris to be the state’s 32nd attorney general. What has been called her “biggest test and success” came the next year, when she negotiated an additional $12 billion in debt relief for Californians as part of the settlement of a 49-state suit against five major banks accused of mortgage abuses. On the AG’s Ag enda Prosecuting human trafficking is high on Harris’s list of priorities, as it has been throughout her career. According to statistics released by her office, California is one of the nation’s top four destination states for the multibillion-dollar, modernday slave trade. “At its core, this is a pure law enforcement issue, and we must address it,” says Harris. “We’ve got to send victims the signal that we care.” Other immigration-related issues are also a focus of her office. Harris made statewide headlines reminding local law enforcement that federal orders to turn over noncriminal undocumented immigrants aren’t mandatory. She also recently filed two highprofile amicus briefs: one with the California Supreme Court supporting the admission of undocumented immigrant Sergio Garcia to the state bar, and another with the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to Arizona’s illegal immigration legislation. Taking a big-picture view of immigration reform, this immigrants’ daughter says she’s excited about what she sees as a convergence of political will, legal opinion, and public support for sweeping change. As with Brown v. Board of Education’s school desegregation, spearheaded generations ago by her legal heroes Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley, immigration reform may very well be the next civil rights issue to have its day in court. “I think history will also show this moment as a turning point,” she says. “It’s incumbent on everyone to consider the moment and decide what side of history they want to be on.”


Hastings Alumni Mag-Spring 2013
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