SANTA ANA — Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced Jan. 3 that he has re-established the position of chief assistant district attorney effective immediately, and that he has appointed Senior Assistant District Attorney Jim Tanizaki to the position.
Born in Nagoya, Tanizaki immigrated to the U.S. when he was 5 years old and lived in Los Angeles for the remainder of his childhood. He graduated with distinction from CSU Dominguez Hills, where he received his bachelor of arts degree. While attending CSUDH, he served in the university’s student government program.
Tanizaki then attended the Georgetown University Law Center. During law school, he served as a clerk for a law firm and a tax publication. After earning his juris doctorate, he worked in private practice, where he handled criminal defense and estate planning.
In 1985, Tanizaki joined the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), where he served as a deputy district attorney in the Juvenile and Central Municipal Court, as well as on the Felony Panel. In 1989, he was assigned as a deputy district attorney in the Special Assignments Unit.
From 1993-1999, he served as a senior deputy district attorney in the Homicide Unit, where he prosecuted People v. Dylan Wofford, the first Orange County hate crime murder, and People v. Gigueres, a case in which a homeless couple was convicted of allowing a pet rat to bite and kill their 4-month-old baby.
Tanizaki was promoted to assistant district attorney in 2000 and oversaw the Juvenile Court. In 2002, he was promoted to senior assistant district attorney and oversaw Branch Court Operations for two years. In 2004, he began overseeing and managing the Violent Crimes/Vertical Prosecution Division. He has served in this position for the past 12 years.
Tanizaki is a current member of the Special Circumstances Committee, where he reviews death penalty-eligible cases and determines whether the defendant should face capital punishment.
In 2014, Tanizaki was elected as a board member for the California District Attorneys Association for the 2014-2015 term. He is an adjunct professor at the Whittier College of Law, where he has taught criminal trial advocacy since 1999. He is married and has two children.
“I am pleased to appoint Jim Tanizaki as the chief assistant district attorney,” said Rackauckas. “He is currently the longest-serving senior district attorney. Jim’s talents include organization and case management. He has tremendous work ethic and attention to detail. I know he will continue to do great work in this new position.”
“I am humbled and grateful for this appointment by our district attorney, Tony Rackauckas,” stated Tanizaki. “I continue to be amazed at all the wonderful men and women of the OCDA who dedicate their considerable talents and energies to fulfill the mission of the office. We will continue to strive together in pursuing justice and becoming even more effective as a prosecutorial agency.”