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JABA to Honor Alternate Public Defender Janice Fukai with Public Service Award at Annual Gala

The Japanese American Bar Association (JABA) announced that it will honor Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender (APD) Janice Fukai at its Annual Installation and Awards Gala on February 22, 2013 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Fukai is the first Asian American woman to lead a Los Angeles County department. The Board of Supervisors praised her 2002 appointment and stated: “The current APD Chief Deputy Janice Fukai has been instrumental in the development and leadership of the Department. The entire Board has a lot of confidence in that office and her in particular.”

In 1993, the Board of Supervisors created the Alternate Public Defender’s Office to handle cases that conflict with the Public Defender’s Office. After what Fukai describes as “13 outstanding years with the Public Defender,” she transferred to the APD’s Office as its first Chief Deputy and faced the challenge of building a new county department “from scratch.” Today, the APD’s Office employs 300 lawyers, investigators, paralegals, clerical and administrative support staff.

Fukai serves on the board of numerous professional groups, including JABA’s Advisory Council. She also is the recipient of many professional and community service awards. “Janice Fukai is a leader and role model in the Japanese American and larger legal community,” said JABA President-Elect James Toma, “no person better exemplifies the spirit of public service and we are privileged to include her as a prominent JABA member.”

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by JABA, an outstanding legal, educational and service organization in its own right, said Fukai. “My sincere thanks to JABA and the many public service role models in my life, including my late father, Mas Fukai.”

Fukai received her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Southern California. After law school, Fukai served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Robert M. Takasugi (dec.), United States District Court Judge for the Central District of California, who was her mentor and advisor throughout her career. Fukai joined the Public Defender’s Office in 1980, where she rose through the ranks to Senior Trial Deputy and Special Assistant. Her work as a trial attorney is featured in the book “Public Defender, Lawyer for the People” by Joan Hewitt.