The Sacramento Bee
January 3, 2023
Thien Ho, a former Vietnamese immigrant who worked his way up to become one of Sacramento’s toughest prosecutors, was sworn in Tuesday as Sacramento County’s 36th district attorney and the first person of color to hold the post.
Ho, who handled the prosecution of Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist Joseph James DeAngelo — one of California’s largest and most complicated murder cases — was formally sworn in by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Carlton Davis at the Tsakopoulos Galleria in the main library downtown in front of 500 law enforcement officials, supporters and family members.
In an interview before the ceremony, Ho told The Bee he understood the historic importance of him taking over from D.A. Anne Marie Schubert.
“You know, there used to be a wall at the D.A.’s office that had the pictures of the 35 previously elected D.A.s,” Ho said. “And I would stand there and I would look at them.
“And each and every one of them — they were good prosecutors, good lawyers, and some became great judges — but none of them looked like me, and so this is a very historical day that I am cognizant of.
“Out of 2,400 elected D.A.s in the country, I’ll be the fifth Asian American. But more than that, what is important is making sure that we represent all communities.”
Ho becomes district attorney as Sacramento now has people of color serving as the highest-ranking elected law enforcement leaders.
Sheriff Jim Cooper was sworn in last month as the county’s first Black sheriff, and attended Ho’s swearing-in ceremony along with numerous other law enforcement leaders. Ho, who has served as interim D.A. since Schubert’s departure last month, said he hopes his background will help unite segments of the community.
In the past, Black Lives Matters and other groups have railed against the D.A.’s office for failing to prosecute law enforcement officers in shooting cases, a frequent criticism of Schubert, who never filed charges in such cases.
“I’m an immigrant, a refugee,” Ho said. “I know what it’s like to be poor and to have nothing. “I know what it’s like to be a victim of crime, but I also know that intricacies of working within the system to make sure that all voices of our justice system work.”
Ho made such promises a hallmark of his successful campaign against former Deputy D.A. Alana Mathews, and echoed that theme Tuesday.
“When you have the symbol of Lady Justice, on the one hand she has a sword, which represents accountability,” he said. “But in the other hand is a scale that represents fairness, equality and balance.
“And that’s what we need in our criminal justice system.”