Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Running for Congress

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2016 at 10:13 am    

Prominent Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Marcus Musante is running for Congress in California’s 44th congressional district.  While a very high percentage of congress-members are attorneys by trade, very few come from criminal defense backgrounds. Most are former civil attorneys, government attorneys, or prosecutors.  However, this defense lawyer notes his extensive background on both sides of the courtroom, including as a former prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

Attorney Musante is campaigning on a record of fighting for public safety, the rights of low income and minority populations, and a history of pro bono volunteer work for the community.  While challenges to incumbent congress-members have a low success rate, current Congresswoman Janice Hahn has previously announced that she is retiring from Congress to run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Rep. Janice Hahn Leaving Congress for LA County Board of Supervisors.

In 2011, before Musante became a criminal defense attorney, he achieved a level of prominence in Los Angeles when he ran for District Attorney.  A deputy district attorney at the time, Musante promised that, should he be elected, he would not prosecute any drug possession cases.  LA Weekly Article from 2011.  He argued that such an act would have diminished the workload of law enforcement substantially, allowing peace officers and prosecutors to focus more on violent crime.  He also vowed to avoid the death penalty and diminish use of prior strikes, which can substantially lengthen prison terms for certain low-level felony offenses.  He noted in the LA Weekly article: “We have to tell the difference between a criminal and a bad guy. A guy may have a prior strike from 20 years ago. That strike, even if it’s just knucklehead stuff, it just buries him.”  This commentary is notable, especially given the fact that he was not yet an advocate for criminal defendants but was, at the time, a career prosecutor.

The 44th congressional district includes parts of southern Los Angeles and extends south to the coast in San Pedro.  It includes the areas of Compton, Downey, East Compton, Lynwood, San Pedro, Wilmington, and North Long Beach, among other areas.  Other candidates for the office include State Senator Isadore Hall and Hemosa Beach City Councilwoman Nanette Barragan.  Neither of the other candidates are involved in the criminal justice system, although Ms. Barragan is an attorney.  Fall 2015 candidate fundraising reports indicate that Musante is lagging far behind Hall and Barragan, with approximately $17,000 cash on hand compared to Barragan’s $210,000 and Hall’s $500,000.  See BallotPedia’s Fundraising Reports for more information.

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