Remarks from 8th Annual Victims’ Rights Rally

Date: April 12, 2016


Tony Rackauckas:





Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett:





Tony Rackauckas:


Chief Carlos Rojas:




Tony Rackauckas:












Tony Rackauckas:












Tony Rackauckas:





Tony Rackauckas:






Tony Rackauckas:


















Dr. Henry Nicholas:

Tony Rackauckas:






Andrew Do:











Janelle Weinberg:



Michelle Steel:






Jackie S.:

Lisa Bartlett:


Ronnetta Johnson :








Tony Rackauckas:

Good Evening!

Remembering those we have lost, honoring those who have survived, and celebrating the tenacity and strength of the people who carry on the fight for justice – Welcome to the 8th Annual Orange County Victims’ Rights Rally.

Please stand as Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, representing the 5th District, welcomes us on behalf of the Board of Supervisors and leads us in a Moment of Silence.

Good evening. On behalf of my colleagues on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, welcome to the Hall of Administration. At this time, please turn on your candles and feel free to keep them lit during the event.

Please join me in observing a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims that have been harmed and lost in our County, as well as the victims of the senseless terrorist attack in a county building in San Bernardino. Please remain standing as you join me in a moment of silence as we come together as a County in prayer of reflection, keeping our victims and their families closely at heart.

Now Santa Ana Police Department Chief Carlos Rojas will call to attention, the Santa Ana Police Department Honor Guard and lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Deputy District Attorney Anna Chinowth will be singing the National Anthem after the Presentation of the Colors.

Thank you for letting me represent the Orange County law enforcement partners and my colleagues who are present today, Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada, Fountain Valley Police Chief Daniel Lorens, Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy, Orange Police Chief Robert Gustafson, Chief of Probation Steve Sentman, Tustin Bureau Charles Celano, and OCDA Bureau Chief Craig Hunter. In honor of those brave men and women who have lost their lives fighting for our freedom abroad and in remembrance of police officers who were killed while on duty please join me in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

You may be seated.

In the past years, we heard requests to please make the event cooler in temperature … please have it at the end of the day so more people may attend after work. Luckily, our board members agreed to co-host this rally indoors and at the end of the day. The Board did make us promise that we would NOT have a dove release as we have in the past, inside this room.

You’re welcome PETA.

Also, in the interest of focusing our attention to our crime victims, we will scroll the names of our elected officials, law enforcement partners, sponsors, and victims’ rights groups that are present today.

We are all necessary partners – from elected officials who give us the laws to punish the perpetrators of crimes – to law enforcement partners who prevent and investigate crimes, apprehend perpetrators, and hand out Marsy’s Law cards — to prosecutors who zealously advocate within the law from filing to conviction to parole hearings while providing compassion and comfort to victims– and finally the victims’ rights and service groups, who work to make their heartache just a little bearable.

Let’s give all of them a round of applause.

I would now like to introduce the other guests who have joined me on stage.

To my left are Janelle Weinberg, the mother of Ariel Johnson who was killed by a drunk driver who refused a free cab ride, Jackie S., who survived a brutal sexual assault in her own home, Dr. Henry T. Nicholas III chief architect of Marsy’s Law, and Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas. To my right are Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, Supervisors Andrew Do and Michelle Steel. Many OCDA personnel are here today including my top managers Jaime Coulter, Joe D’Agostino, Todd Hart, Mike Lubinski, and Susan Kang Schroeder.

Many of our past keynote speakers are also here with us today. They have shared their stories, opened their hearts to us, and I’m so appreciative to have their continued support and participation. Please stand up and be recognized: Collene Campbell, sister of murder victim Mickey Thompson and mother of murder victim Scott Campbell. John Steves, husband of murder victim Mara Steves. And Dr. Henry Nicholas the Third, brother of murder victim Marsy Nicholas. Let’s welcome them back with a round of applause.

I see so many of you with buttons, posters, and pictures. Can you all please stand so we can see the faces of your loved ones?

Thank you!

Orange County is and always has been the place where reform begins. Over the past five years, you’ve heard me talk about the 40-year fight for crime victims’ rights and criminal justice reform. You’ve heard me talk about working to recall California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other rogue justices, working to pass the Crime Victims Justice Reform Act Proposition 115, Gang reform Proposition 21, DNA reform Proposition 69, fighting against the weakening of Three Strikes Law by opposing Proposition 66 and against the repeal of the death penalty by opposing Proposition 34, passing Megan’s Law, Jessica’s Law, Marsy’s Law, and many others. You’ve been with us as we’ve continued to work on behalf of victims to secure your rights.

Unfortunately, this year, the pendulum is swinging back widely and hitting us in the face. Back in 1994, we were able to make the greatest stride in the history of public safety reform by passing Three Strikes in California. The initiative was having trouble qualifying until the unthinkable happened to Polly Klaas who was kidnapped and murdered by a career criminal who should not have been free roaming the rustic neighborhood of Petaluma. Just how many more laws do we need named after innocent victims for us to wake up?

Look folks, it’s math, not magic. If criminals are not in jails and prisons, then crime is going to go up. We are trending the wrong way with AB109 and Proposition 47, and in the next few months, we are bracing to fight a tsunami of bad initiatives.

There’s a measure that will continue the dangerous trend of letting convicted criminals out of prison early.

There is an initiative that is seeking to repeal the death penalty. If we lose the death penalty in California, we will never get it back. It’s simply cruel to tell families of some of the most heinous murder victims that the punishment that they thought they obtained for those murders will no longer be the punishment.

I am proud to be part of the team that’s fighting to keep the death penalty in California. It’s simply the battle I will NEVER give up from the time more than 30 years ago I took an unpaid leave of absence to fight Rose Bird and the rogue justices who refused to enforce the law.

The California Death Penalty Reform Measure brings common sense reform to the death penalty so that the worst of the worst criminals face the ultimate punishment, bringing closure and justice for victims while maintaining due process protections for those sentenced to death. It speeds up the appeals process by making more courts and more lawyers available to work on death penalty appeals cases, while also saving money by making death penalty inmates work and pay restitution to victims and also houses them in less expensive prisons with fewer privileges.

The OCDA is committed to working on many legislative reforms including AB 860, being carried by Assemblyman Tom Daly, which reforms the law on sexual assaults by doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists.

Marsy’s Law guarantees constitutional rights for crime victims. Dr. Henry Nicholas III, co-founder and former co-chairman of Broadcom Corporation, is the chief architect of Marsy’s Law, which is named after his sister who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. The truth of the matter is, Dr. Nicholas has been a champion, over and over again, for public safety. Here is Dr. Nicholas with an update on spreading Marsy’s Law around the country.

Dr. Henry Nicholas III delivers update on Marsy’s Law

Thank you Dr. Nicholas. Next will be Supervisors Do and Steel who will introduce our speakers. Instead of letting crime define them, these speakers chose to turn their pain into a positive. Instead of letting the crime define them they chose to fight and to stand up for what is right, what is justice, and against evil

Here is Supervisor Andrew Do, a former Orange County deputy district attorney, representing the First District, who will introduce our guest Janelle Weinberg. After Janelle speaks, we will have the quartet sing a special song. Then Supervisor Michelle Steel, representing the Second District will introduce Jackie S.
As a father of two daughters, Janelle’s story is my worst nightmare. At 3:14 a.m. a little more than three years ago, she woke up and realized her 21-year-old daughter Ariel Johnson wasn’t home. She called Ariel. No answer. She simply texted, “Hello?” and went back to bed. The next day at 8:30 a.m., Janelle’s nightmare began with a knock on the door from a law enforcement officer who let her know that Ariel was killed in a DUI collision. Ariel Johnson and passenger John Doe were being driven home from a party in Placentia by Shauna Ahyen, who had refused an offer for a paid cab ride home and was driving under the influence of alcohol. Ariel was lying down near John Doe who was seated in the back seat of the vehicle when the defendant drove over a curb, hit a telephone pole, and crashed into a building on Brookhurst Street in Garden Grove, which is in my District. John Doe was taken to the hospital and treated for a broken arm and clavicle. Ariel was pronounced dead at the scene. The defendant who was also 21 years old pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more causing bodily injury and was sentenced to six years and eight months in state prison in 2014. The word “senseless” does not begin to describe this crime. Please help me welcome Janelle to tell us how special her daughter was and how she is using this tragedy to prevent this crime. She allowed us to use the pictures we showed so we can see the devastating effects of driving under the influence. Janelle could you come up?

Janelle Weinberg speaks

Music by quartet “Imagine”

Brave. Resilient. Remarkable. These words come to mind in describing our next speaker. Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year. In 2013, it became the nightmare before Christmas for Jackie S. A 43-year-old stranger broke into her home at 3:30 a.m. on December 13, and brutally beat her using a hammer and his fist, before sexually violating her. Jackie S. was taken to a nearby hospital where she suffered horrible injuries. She even suffered a stroke two days after the attack and requiring multiple surgeries. Thomas Johnson pleaded guilty to attacking, torturing, and sexually assaulting Jackie. He was sentenced to 34 years to life in state prison in 2015. Please welcome a woman I proudly call my constituent, a woman with an amazing spirit and thirst for survival.
Jackie S. Speaks

Supervisors Do and Steel, please join me on stage. The Orange County Board of Supervisors is pleased to present Community Services Programs with their acknowledgement. I would like to invite up Ronnetta Johnson.

The Community Service Programs has been serving Orange County since 1972. CSP is committed to making Orange County a better place to live by providing the highest quality counseling and support services to struggling children, individuals, and families at their greatest time of need.
We accept this award on behalf of Community Service Programs, and other victims’ rights groups we have represented today — California Victim Compensation Program, Fore International, Sanctuary, the Joyful Child Foundation, Junior League of Orange County, Justice for Homicide Victims, Justice For Murdered Children, Lives of Promise, Memory of Victims Everywhere, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center, Parents of Murdered Children, PANDA, A Quarter Blue, Stop Human Trafficking Action Group, and Veterans First . These groups play a vital role in helping victims and advocating for reform, thank you Orange County Board of Supervisors, law enforcement officers and prosecutors.

Thank you Ronnetta. A couple of house-keeping items; the candles are useless unless they are charged, so if you could please return them to the bins with our volunteers on your way out. Also, the parking is free with validation and is available at the exit. Finally, how about a big round of applause for the Public Affairs Unit?

People often ask me, gee it must be so hard and stressful to be the elected District Attorney. I say sure, as prosecutors and police officers, we face many long and difficult days. As an added bonus, people only say the most complimentary, supportive things about us, especially me, on Facebook and Twitter.

When I was a line prosecutor, I handled the case of a serial murderer William Bonin. And every time I saw the crime photos while preparing the case, I could not help but cry in private. As tough as that was, it can never compare to the anguish of a parent who has lost a child in the worst way and the sadness of a child who had her innocence taken away by a molester.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill who helped save our freedom by fighting the Nazis said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” We will always outnumber the bad guys, and we will keep going in the name of our innocent crime victims.

Thank you for the privilege of being able to serve you. We dedicate our public life and service to all those harmed by crime, to bring justice, to fight your fight, and to defend your rights. Every year, we will work together to assert our rights and protect our community.

Thank you for coming to this Rally, which reminds us each year of all that we must do, and strengthens our resolve to not give up. By speaking up for victims, you empower all victims to have a voice.

Thank you all for coming out today, wearing your t-shirts, holding your signs, and carrying your loved one’s pictures in your hand and their spirits in your hearts.

I wish you peace and strength until we see each other – next year.