Veteran prosecutor Thien Ho this month announced his plan to run for Sacramento County District Attorney (DA) in the 2022 election.
Also running for that seat is another local prosecutor Paris Coleman, and former Sacramento County Deputy DA Alana Mathews.
Sacramento County’s current district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert announced last month that she will run for state attorney general in next year’s election.
Ho, who currently serves as the county’s assistant chief deputy district attorney, was the lead prosecutor on the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case, which resulted in last year’s sentencing of Joseph DeAngelo to 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole for 13 murders, and an additional life term for 13 kidnappings.
His experience also includes oversight of the Justice and Community Relations Bureau, and supervision of the Gangs and Hate Crime and Major Narcotic units.
Ho was also named Prosecutor of the Year by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office in 2017, and spent the past 15 years serving as an adjunct professor, teaching trial advocacy at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
Ho told the Citizen that his background has prepared him to be a candidate for county district attorney.
“I decided to run for district attorney for Sacramento County, because I believe the people of the county deserve the steady hand of a veteran prosecutor with a proven tract record and the leadership skills necessary to protect the public, connect communities and build bridges,” he said.
“I believe that I have both the experience, expertise and the empathy to do so. And I believe that my qualifications are unmatched and unrivaled to do so, and I am committed to serving the people in all of the communities in Sacramento County.”
Ho added that his experience as a Vietnam refugee plays a role in his run for the DA seat. He fled to the United States with his family in 1976.
“As a refugee who fled Vietnam seeking freedom in America, I understand the importance of a justice system that serves all equally,” he said. “I have always defended the integrity of the criminal justice system and safeguarded the rights of victims, making sure that their voices are heard.”
Ho, who grew up in San Jose, said that he became the first member of his family to attend law school. He graduated from University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1995, and from McGeorge School of Law, with his juris doctorate in 1998.
After beginning his career as a prosecutor in the Bay Area in 1998, Ho came to Sacramento, where he continued his work in that role. He worked his way from misdemeanor, child sexual assault and gang cases to hate crime, major narcotic and serial killer cases.
Ho shared his memories of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case.
“He had committed 13 murders and over 50 rapes in 11 different jurisdictions throughout the state of California, and this over from 1975 (to) the last known murder in 1986,” he said.
“To allow the victims to get a measure of justice and closure, it was well worth it. When I think about the case now, I no longer think about the defendant. I don’t think about the (many) pages of discovery or the DNA evidence or all these other counts of murder and rape. What I really think about are the victims of the case or the survivors of the case.”
Ho added that his experience extends beyond courtrooms. He mentors youth through such programs as Contract for Success, the Sacramento County DA’s Youth Academy and Youth Shadow Day.
“Not only do I have the experience in the courtroom, but I have experience in the executive room and in the community,” Ho said. “So, I’ve demonstrated leadership in all three of those areas.”