Chief Assistant District Attorney Jim Tanizaki was born in Nagoya, Japan. He immigrated to the United States when he was 5 years old and lived in Los Angeles for the remainder of his childhood.
Tanizaki graduated with distinction from the California State University at Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), 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, Tanizaki 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 and in the Special Assignments Unit. In 1991, he was assigned as a senior deputy district attorney, where he served in the Special Assignments Unit, Homicide Unit, and was the Team Leader on the Felony Panel. While serving in these positions, 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, where he 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 served in this position for 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.
In 2017, Tanizaki was promoted to chief assistant district attorney.
Tanizaki 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.