Office History

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office was created by an act of the California State Legislature on Feb. 27, 1850. There have been 42 District Attorneys who have served the county, starting with William C. Ferrell. You may learn more about each District Attorney below.

Fred N. Howser

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1943 - 1946
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Fred Howser succeeded John Dockweiler by appointment of the Board of Supervisors, a choice that surprised many people who thought that the new District Attorney would be an office insider.

William E. Simpson

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1946 - 1951
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In 1946, the Board of Supervisors appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney William E. Simpson, 47, to succeed Fred Howser.

S. Ernest Roll

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1951 - 1956
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When DA William Simpson died, prospective successors inundated the Board of Supervisor with so many calls that some members had to disconnect their home telephones.

William B. McKesson

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1956 - 1964
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The Board of Supervisors named William B. McKesson, 61, a Superior Court judge assigned to Juvenile Court, District Attorney upon Ernest Roll’s death in 1956.

Evelle J. Younger

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1964 - 1971
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Evelle Younger was an FBI Special Agent after law school and served with Army Intelligence in India during World War II.

Joseph P. Busch

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1971 - 1975
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Joseph Busch had been with the District Attorney’s Office for almost two decades when he was chosen for the top job.

John K. Van de Kamp

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1975 - 1982
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It took the Board of Supervisors six months to pick a replacement after District Attorney Joseph Busch’s sudden death.

Robert H. Philibosian

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1982 - 1984
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Robert Philibosian was picked to replace John Van de Kamp after his election as state attorney general in 1982.

Ira Reiner

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1984 - 1992
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When Ira Reiner was elected district attorney he was already a well-known public figure in Los Angeles.

Gil Garcetti

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1992 - 2000
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Gil Garcetti was head deputy of the Torrance office when he was elected in 1992. Garcetti was District Attorney Ira Reiner's former chief deputy district attorney.

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