Bonnie M. Dumanis

photo: Bonnie Dumanis

  • Experienced Felony Prosecutor
  • Innovative Leader
  • Seasoned Law Enforcement Manager

Bonnie Dumanis is one of San Diego's most innovative and respected law enforcement leaders. She's spent her entire career in public service and her unique blend of experience – three-term District Attorney, Superior Court Judge and Clerk Typist – has given her the skills to successfully reorganize and run one of the largest criminal justice operations in California. Throughout her career Bonnie has been recognized as a team builder and organizational strategist.

Bonnie's Career

Bonnie's first job as a Junior Clerk Typist in the County, and later as an Intermediate Clerk Typist in the office she now heads, earned her just a few dollars an hour but are positions she considers extremely important in shaping her approach to government organization and management. Even though she is currently the top law enforcement official in San Diego County, Bonnie has never forgotten her first job in the DA's office and keeps a plaque in her office that reads, "The clerk helping in your division today may be your boss tomorrow."

Bonnie studied law at night and received her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 1976. She went on to serve 12 years as a San Diego Deputy District Attorney, prosecuting murders, rapes, robberies, child abuse and sexual assault cases.

In 1990, Bonnie was appointed by the Court and served as Superior Court Referee. She was elected Judge of the Municipal Court in 1994. She served in this capacity for the next four years, using her strength in organizational leadership to create one of the first Drug Courts in San Diego, which was recognized as a national model.

In 1998, Bonnie was elected Judge of the San Diego Superior Court and continued to find innovative approaches to criminal justice, this time with a program called Domestic Violence Court to reduce recidivism among perpetrators. Her ideas about stressing accountability and treatment for the batterers have received statewide recognition.

Creating a Better District Attorney's Office

After taking office as District Attorney in 2003, Bonnie undertook a major reorganization of the office that she considers one of the most important tasks of her career. "Our work has very real impacts on people's lives and their safety," she says. "We owe it to the taxpayers and the victims of crime to do the best job we can, and that meant making some major changes."

photo: Bonnie Dumanis

Reorganizing the DA's Office was not easy, since the basic structure had not seen change in three decades. Under her collaborative approach that brought all parties to the table, including employees, attorneys and taxpayers, the office established a Cold Case Homicide Division, Narcotics Division and Sex Crimes and Stalking Division. She also began a program encouraging minorities to consider careers in criminal justice, and she has improved diversity among the DA Office's employees so that it essentially mirrors that of the county's population. She implemented a Business Management Plan and a new level of accountability to the office.

In the DA's Office, all systems and functions continue to be examined to ensure their current value and effectiveness to consolidate, streamline and leverage technology for efficiency. One of the biggest changes Bonnie made is a focused effort to settle criminal cases, when appropriate, earlier during the adjudication process, which resulted in an annual savings to the taxpayer of millions of dollars.

Bonnie's work to create a better-functioning District Attorney's Office has paid off in recent years, when the effects of our ongoing economic recession have decimated some government agencies. "The DA's Office has to do more with a lot less right now," Bonnie notes, "And we are in better shape than many other organizations to weather this storm." Working closely with employees and with public safety as everyone's top priority, Bonnie and the roughly 1,000 employees she oversees have maintained a 94 percent conviction rate, one of the highest in the State. At the same time, DA Dumanis has focused on crime prevention, stopping the revolving door to prison, and helping victims. She has also increased transparency and public access to the DA's Office, including the development of a Citizen`s Academy and advisory committees for youth, women and the general community.

Protecting San Diego: Bonnie's Critical Initiatives

Under Bonnie's direction, the DA's office helped write and pass California's Proposition 83, known as Jessica's Law. This law tightens restrictions on child molesters and sexually-violent predators, making California one of the toughest states in the nation in dealing with these offenders. Recently, her office photo: Bonnie Dumanis worked to help draft and pass Chelsea's Law, increasing penalties for sex offenders. Bonnie and her office also fought to pass Proposition 69, to increase the use of DNA to solve crimes.

Bonnie's office is also leading California in implementing a prisoner reform program (SB 618), which provides non-violent offenders with job training, treatment, and wrap around services to keep them from returning to a life of crime once they are released from prison. The DA's Office, in partnership with the Courts, law enforcement organizations and all stakeholders, has just begun a Re-entry Court.

Serving Our Community

In addition to her dedication to the criminal justice system, Bonnie has never wavered in her support of community and civic organizations. She has served on the California State Bar Board of Governors, is past president of the California District Attorneys Association, was a Commissioner for California Peace Officers Standards and Training, is Vice-President of the National District Attorneys Association, is a member of the San Diego County Police Chiefs’ and Sheriff`s Association, served as past president of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Bar Association and taught ethics at the University Of San Diego School Of Law.

Bonnie has also volunteered for hospice and the Mesa Vista Hospital. She currently serves on the Advisory Boards for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and Second Chance.

Bonnie has also been recognized by the YWCA Tribute to Women Award, the California Women in Government Law and Justice Award and the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary Women of Dedication Award.