The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Fish and Game Commission are pleased to name Jessica Brown, Supervising City Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office as 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Brown oversees the Environmental Justice Unit in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which includes a team of superb prosecutors, all of whom are highly dedicated to the successful prosecution of fish and wildlife cases.
“The Los Angeles City Attorney’s team of Environmental Justice Unit prosecutors, and especially Ms. Brown, have worked tirelessly to prosecute poachers and to send a clear message that poaching and trafficking of wildlife will not be tolerated,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Ms. Brown is a true asset to the protection of California’s natural resources and has displayed exceptional skill and an outstanding commitment with her relentless pursuit of justice.”
The following are just a few examples of her tenacious work.
Brown and her team prosecuted some of the first ivory trafficking cases in California, including winning convictions in the first two ivory cases to go to jury trial, since the Legislature strengthened the law to prohibit ivory trafficking in July 2016. The multi-week trials involved litigating a vast array of legal topics related to the recently enacted statute, including developing jury instructions, crafting complex pretrial motions and arguing numerous legal concepts during trial. Brown and her team demonstrated exceptional cooperation with wildlife officers, wildlife forensic specialists and the CDFW Office of General Counsel throughout all stages of these trials, from pretrial preparation through sentencing. “It was critical to prosecute these first ivory trafficking cases right the first time since it would set the stage for future prosecution of similar cases,” said Chief Bess.
Brown and her team were instrumental in the filing of complex cases related to interstate seafood trafficking. This joint law enforcement operation involved wildlife officers from California, Maine and Hawaii and resulted in several Fish and Game Code violations against numerous retail establishments. During the operation, Brown went above and beyond in conducting her own investigations into records violations, which significantly contributed to the successful outcome of this case.
Brown and her team prosecuted a recent high-profile restricted species possession case involving a monkey. Another case involved a convicted drug dealer who illegally possessed a tiger. CDFW and the Commission hope the cases will have long-term deterrence impacts and help educate people that exotic pets do not belong in unpermitted homes, owned by people who lack the qualifications to properly care for them.
Brown and her team have also regularly assisted CDFW wildlife officers with marine enforcement cases involving unlicensed commercial passenger fishing vessels, resulting in positive marine conservation benefits for the state. Brown understands the importance of California’s ocean’s resources and takes action against those who illegally exploit them for personal gain.
If all this was not enough, Ms. Brown and her team have shared their knowledge and expertise with fellow prosecutors by spearheading a statewide prosecution task force dedicated to stopping wildlife trafficking. Prosecutors around the state now have additional resources to facilitate successful prosecutions of cases concerning the illegal commercialization of wildlife, with significant credit going to Brown.
“I certainly understand why the CDFW and the Commission are honoring Jessica Brown as Prosecutor of the Year,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “I’m a big fan. Jessica’s determination to protect the environment and our wildlife – and hold accountable those who violate the law – is an example for all of us. My colleagues and I are inspired by her commitment, passion and hard work.”
As the supervising attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit, Brown’s steadfast dedication to CDFW’s cases has earned her the respect of wildlife officers and she has been instrumental in advancing the successful prosecution of CDFW cases in California. Her devotion to the protection and conservation of California’s natural resources makes her worthy of this recognition.