Mara Elliott
San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. File photo

San Diego’s City Attorney Mara Elliott was named the Public Lawyer of the Year by the California Lawyers Association in Sacramento Wednesday.

The 2020 Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year Award recognizes Elliott as “an exceptional attorney who has demonstrated a commitment to public service throughout her career,” a statement from the association said.

Elliott’s selection “continues the tradition of selecting a public attorney who constantly goes above and beyond providing mere legal advice to her clients. Her distinguished career demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars and protecting the rights and safety of Californians,” said Alex Calero, chair of the association’s public law section. “Elliott is recognized as a national leader in preventing gun violence, a fierce champion for consumers, workers and the environment, and a staunch protector of victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.”

Elliott created the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit that has held some major corporate offenders accountable, such as Experian for violating San Diegans’ privacy, Purdue Pharma for knowingly addicting vulnerable San Diegans to opioids, and Instacart for exploiting workers.

“As city attorney, Mara relaunched the San Diego Family Justice Center to bolster support for victims of domestic violence and expand its services to victims of sex trafficking. Every year, the SDFJC offers hundreds of families free legal advice, medical exams, counseling and other support services in a safe and private safety,” said Heather Finlay, CEO of the YWCA of San Diego County. “Additionally, Mara created San Diego’s pioneering Gun Violence Restraining Order program to stop shootings by keeping dangerous people from having guns. Through Mara’s leadership, courts have removed over 500 firearms, including 40 assault weapons, from people who posed a threat to themselves and others.”

The daughter of a longshoreman father and immigrant mother, Elliott was the first in her family to graduate college, attending UC Santa Barbara and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Elliott has served as legal counsel to public schools, the transit district and San Diego County. Elliott served as a chief deputy city attorney before winning election in 2016. She is running for reelection this year.

–City News Service