Racial justice, crime prevention, bail reform and the highly publicized prosecution of Harvey Weinstein were at the forefront of an insightful and wide-ranging conversation that UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin hosted with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Sept. 11. The meeting was the fifth in UCLA Law’s ongoing “From the Front Lines” series of webinars where top legal leaders and experts discuss the most prominent issues of the day.
As the district attorney in New York City, Vance has been at the center of major investigations involving Weinstein, the Trump Organization, terrorism, financial crimes and more. He and Mnookin talked about the impact of the #MeToo movement and the uprising following the killing of George Floyd, as well as the philosophies that have driven his leadership of one of the nation’s most active D.A. offices since he was first elected to the job a decade ago.
“The role of district attorney has changed in that I, and I think others, define ‘crime fighting’ differently than I did when I came in in 2010,” he said. “And by that, I mean: I think we can all agree that a crime prevented is far better than a crime prosecuted — for all the parties.”
Vance offered encouragement to students and others who aspire to be prosecutors. “People who come to [work in] my office don’t come there to exercise power, they usually come there because they want to make a difference,” he said. “They view this as doing something that’s meaningful, that’s helping their communities. In many instances, they come because they want to change the way things have traditionally been done and want to challenge policies that impact race and social justice. And so, I think it’s a great time to be a prosecutor.”
To see the full conversation, click here or watch below.