Alternate Public Defender Fukai Honored at CSULA

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Alternate Public Defender Janice Fukai. left, and California Forensic Science Institute Executive Director Rose Ochi.

The California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI) at Cal State Los Angeles recognized Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender for Janice Y. Fukai, along with three other remarkable individuals, for their contributions to forensic science and CFSI at its annual Honoree Recognition Reception on Dec. 10.

Rose Ochi, executive director of CFSI, said, “We are proud to honor Janice Fukai, who works to bring justice to Los Angeles with excellence and high standards. She recognizes the importance of educating public defenders on the effective use of DNA. Also, she has participated in a CFSI Public Forum, ‘Challenges Facing Forensic Science,’ bringing an intelligent and balanced approach to defense interests.”

Fukai said, “Thank you very much for this award. I have been in the criminal justice system for many years, so I really do understand the power of scientific evidence within the justice systems, especially in our cases and in our courts. It is imperative that lawyers handling these cases have the adequate training and knowledge to deal with these special types of evidence. As quickly as DNA can incriminate the guilty, it can also effectively exonerate the innocent.”

Fukai is the first Asian American woman to serve as a department head in Los Angeles County’s history. She is a 28-year veteran public defender who leads a department of more than 300 lawyers, investigators, paralegals, clerical and administrative support staff who provide legal services in courthouses throughout the county.

Her work as a successful trial lawyer is featured in the book “Public Defender, Lawyer for the People” by Joan Hewitt. Her accolades include the 2005 Defense Lawyer of the Year Award from the L.A. County Bar Association; the 2005 Silver Eagle Award from the L.A. County Quality and Productivity Commission; the 2005 Superior Lawyer of the Year Award from L.A. Times Magazine; the 2006 Respect for the Law Award from the Evening Optimist Club of Gardena; and the 2007 Chair Leadership Award from the L.A. Quality and Productivity Commission.

The 2010 CFSI honorees also include LAPD Chief Charles L. Beck; California Attorney General and Governor-elect Jerry Brown (who was unable to attend); and California Department of Mental Health Chief of Law Enforcement Services and Assistant to the Director Arthur M. Kassel.

Introducing the honorees at the reception were Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, District Attorney Steve Cooley, Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, and Sheriff Lee Baca.

The institute is a partnership among CSULA, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, and the LAPD. It was created by CSULA President James W. Rosser to serve the Los Angeles Regional Crime Laboratory. For more information, call (323) 343-4815 or visit cal-fsi.com.

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