Non-profit

California District Attorneys Association

Location:

Sacramento, CA

Tax ID:

94-3226023

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $88,853
Expenses: $120,653
Assets: $131,726

Formation:

1995

The California District Attorneys Association is a professional and advocacy group for state prosecutors in California. It says it is a source for continuing education and legislative advocacy for members. [1] It has faced criticism for its support of the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture, a process through which law enforcement can seize private property without a conviction, and its opposition to other criminal justice system reforms.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

California District Attorneys Association has opposed legislation in the California state legislature to reform the civil asset forfeiture system. Civil assets forfeiture is a process through which law enforcement can seize cash, cars, real estate, and other property even when people have never been convicted of a crime. Law enforcement became more aggressive with seizing assets after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. From 2001 to 2014, law enforcement nationwide seized more than $29 billion in assets using civil forfeiture. [2]

California law does not allow permanent seizure of property without a conviction, but the “equitable sharing” loophole allows local police to hand jurisdiction of the property to the federal government, even if there is no conviction or even no charges brought. A measure to limit “equitable sharing” passed overwhelmingly through the California Senate in 2016; however, the CDAA strongly opposed the measure as “overly broad” and saying it “would have really crippled asset forfeiture in California.” The organization further complained it would hamper “large drug operations.” [3]

Advocacy

In 1998, the CDAA worked with the California Environmental Protection Agency, or CalEPA, and California Department of Fish and Game to establish the Environmental Circuit Prosecutor Project. [4]

The CDAA has regularly opposed ballot initiatives and policies to legalize marijuana, reduce penalties for drug offenses, and weaken “three-strikes” sentencing enhancements. It has also fought new restrictions on the prosecution of minors as adults. [5] The organization has also strongly advocated policies to protect victims of sexual assault by extending protective orders. [6]

In March 2020, the CDAA wrote a letter to California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye seeking a uniform standard during the COVID-19 pandemic regarding for the state on closing court houses. The letter, from CDAA President Nancy O’Malley says: “Some courts have authority to close courtrooms, others do not. … Some are opening courts for arraignments only and some are opening more courts to allow preliminary hearings, juvenile hearings and other ancillary matter. … This lack of equity and continuity in the treatment of criminal defendants and those who dedicate their lives to the administration of criminal justice raises concerns regarding equal protection under the law and now, more urgently, violates every health professional’s warning about the spread of the virus.” [7]

Criticism

In January 2020, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar left the California District Attorneys Association and publicly faulted the organization for having a resistance to criminal justice reform. Shortly thereafter, the CDAA issued a letter signed by 54 of the state’s 58 district attorneys responding to Salazar, disputing her “accusations against our integrity and basic compassion towards those enmeshed in the criminal justice system.” The association letter further says “members of CDAA embrace and prioritize values of mercy, compassion, and redemption, along with our commitment to crime prevention and empathy for victims of crime, who are disproportionately people of color.” [8]

The ACLU of Northern California has criticized the association for having too much sway over individual prosecutors, claiming even reform-minded prosecutors are reluctant to challenge the stated positions of the association. [9]

Leadership

Mark Zahner is the CEO of the association, running the day to day activities of the group on the administrative side. [10]

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is the president of the California District Attorneys Association. [11]

Vern Pierson, the District Attorney for El Dorado County is the vice president. [12]

Jeff Reisig, the District Attorney for Yolo County, is the second vice president. [13]

Tim War, the District Attorney for Tulare County, is the secretary-treasurer. [14]

Jackie Lacey, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, is the sergeant at arms. [15]

References

  1. CDAA. LinkedIn. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/company/cdaa/about/ ^
  2. Salahi, Waseem; Brand, Jessica and Heller, Callie. “Civil Asset Forfeiture: Explained.” The Appeal. January 3, 2018.  https://theappeal.org/understanding-civil-asset-forfeiture-e803c59e633b/ ^
  3. Saunders, Debra J. “First They Take Your Stuff, Then You Get to Ask For it Back.” San Francisco Chro. August 7, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/First-they-take-your-stuff-then-you-get-to-ask-9123938.php ^
  4. Environmental Circuit Prosecutor Project. California Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://calepa.ca.gov/enforcement/environmental-circuit-prosecutors-project/ ^
  5. Nichanian, Daniel. “D.A. Associations Should Own Up to the Splintering Politics of Prosecution.” The Appeal. February 14, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://theappeal.org/politicalreport/district-attorney-associations-political-conflicts-cdaa/ ^
  6. Ward, Tim. “Tulare County DA: Proposed Law Addresses ‘Gap’ in Justice for Victims.” Visalia Times Delta. May 15, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/opinion/2020/05/15/tulare-county-da-proposed-law-addresses-gap-justice-victims/5201360002/ ^
  7. Miller, Cherry. “Lawyers Press California Judiciary for Uniform Operating Standards Amid Pandemic.” Law.com. March 22, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.law.com/therecorder/2020/03/22/lawyers-press-california-judiciary-for-uniform-operating-standards-amid-pandemic/?slreturn=20200423161641# ^
  8. Nichanian, Daniel. “D.A. Associations Should Own Up to the Splintering Politics of Prosecution.” The Appeal. February 14, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://theappeal.org/politicalreport/district-attorney-associations-political-conflicts-cdaa/ ^
  9. Nichanian, Daniel. “D.A. Associations Should Own Up to the Splintering Politics of Prosecution.” The Appeal. February 14, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://theappeal.org/politicalreport/district-attorney-associations-political-conflicts-cdaa/ ^
  10. CDAA Staff. California District Attorneys Association. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.cdaa.org/about-us/cdaa-staff ^
  11. Miller, Cherry. “Lawyers Press California Judiciary for Uniform Operating Standards Amid Pandemic.” Law.com. March 22, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.law.com/therecorder/2020/03/22/lawyers-press-california-judiciary-for-uniform-operating-standards-amid-pandemic/?slreturn=20200423161641# ^
  12. Board of Directors. California District Attorneys Association. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.cdaa.org/about-us/board-of-directors ^
  13. Board of Directors. California District Attorneys Association. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.cdaa.org/about-us/board-of-directors ^
  14. Board of Directors. California District Attorneys Association. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.cdaa.org/about-us/board-of-directors ^
  15. Board of Directors. California District Attorneys Association. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.cdaa.org/about-us/board-of-directors ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1995

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $88,853 $120,653 $131,726 $97,779 N $88,478 $23 $79 $0
    2016 Jun Form 990 $218,905 $163,856 $274,678 $208,933 N $232,391 $9,507 $153 $0 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990EZ $96,797 $164,618 $145,197 $107,805 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990EZ $21,986 $35,124 $143,443 $6,011 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990EZ $22,800 $38,248 $150,570 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    California District Attorneys Association

    921 11TH ST STE 300
    Sacramento, CA 95814