Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels, 59

  • Grew up in the Pasadena-area enclave of San Marino
  • His father, George Daniel Jagels, an attorney and businessman, helped found the Leakey Foundation.
  • Graduate, Stanford University and UC Hastings College of Law
  • In April 1975, joined the staff of Kern County District Attorney Al Leddy
  • After Leddy announced his retirement, Jagels won an election against then-Superior Court Judge Marvin Ferguson. Jagels became Kern County’s top prosecutor in 1983 and has run unopposed ever since.
  • Quickly developed reputation as a tough-on-crime prosecutor. His name was bandied about as a potential Republican candidate for state office.
  • In 1982, he was the Kern County co-chairman of Proposition 8, the “Victims Bill of Rights,” which passed in June of that year.
  • In the 1980s, Kern County and its DA’s office gained national attention for prosecuting a series of alleged satanic molestation rings that included allegations of infant sacrifice, ritualized cannibalism and wholesale sexual abuse.

The state attorney general’s office, defense attorneys, memory experts and journalists have since criticized the handling of essentially all of the molestation ring cases.

Convictions in the cases fell apart after a flood of victims recanted. Reasons included flawed interview techniques, legal technicalities and prosecutorial misconduct.

  • In 1986, Jagels led a successful statewide campaign to remove Rose Bird and two other justices from the California Supreme Court over their opposition to the death penalty.
  • Jagels boasts that Kern County has had the highest per-capita prison commitment rate of any major California county.
  • In 1994, appointed to the Governor’s Law Enforcement Steering Committee
  • In 1995, appointed the chairman of the Attorney General’s Policy Council on Violence Prevention.
  • “Mean Justice,” a national best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes, is published in 1999. Humes charged Jagels’ office too often prosecuted innocent defendants. Jagels said the book is nonsense.
  • In fall 2002, Stephen Tauzer, Jagels’ longtime friend and top deputy, was found stabbed to death in Tauzer’s garage. A month later, Chris Hillis, a former investigator in Jagels’ office, was charged with Tauzer’s murder.

Despite rumors that he might retire, Jagels won re-election in 2006.

Sources: Californian archives; Sacramento Bee; Kern County District Attorney Web site, California attorney general’s Web site

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