Attorney General Lockyer Names Mary Jo Graves to Head Department of Justice's Criminal Law Division

16-Y ear Veteran Litigated on DNA Evidence Frontier

Friday, August 4, 2006
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced he has appointed Mary Jo Graves, a 16-year veteran with the Department of Justice (DOJ), as Chief Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Law Division.

“Jo is a consummate professional and superb lawyer,” said Lockyer. “Her colleagues universally praise her work ethic, integrity, professional competence, managerial skills and exceptional commitment to justice. As she assumes her new responsibilities, those qualities will serve well this office, the law enforcement community and the public.”

Graves’ appointment takes effect August 7, 2006, when she will succeed Robert R. Anderson, who has been elevated to the post of Chief Deputy Attorney General for Legal Affairs. Anderson is replacing Richard M. Frank, who is leaving DOJ to head up the newly-created California Center for Environmental Law and Policy at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law.

In her new post, Graves will head a Division with 400 attorneys, 37 legal analysts and a $103 million budget. The Division houses the DOJ’s Appeals, Writs and Trials Section, the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, the Correctional Writs and Appeals Section, the Special Crimes Unit and the Spousal Abuser Prosecution Program. The Division’s responsibilities include handling the DOJ’s death penalty appeals litigation.

A 1982 graduate of the McGeorge School of Law, Graves has spent 16 years with DOJ as a line attorney, supervisor and manager.

Since June 2001, she has served as Senior Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Sacramento/Fresno region of the Appeals, Writs & Trials Section. In that role, Graves has directed the work of 80 attorneys in all facets of DOJ’s criminal law practice, including complex and sensitive investigations, crime charging decisions, and evaluation and assignment of appellate cases. In addition, she is directly involved in all aspects of DOJ’s capital appeals work.

Graves is widely regarded as one of DOJ’s most accomplished trial and appellate attorneys. She tried several complex murder cases as a deputy district attorney and as a deputy attorney general, including two death penalty cases.

Graves litigated on the frontier of DNA evidentiary issues in California. Her arguments before the state Supreme Court in People v. Venegas, 18 Cal.4th 47 (1998), helped produce a landmark decision affirming the admissibility of DNA evidence.

In her current position, Graves regularly consults with district attorneys, particularly those within the Sacramento-Fresno region, on issues ranging from whether the district attorney has a conflict of interest in a case to whether there is a credible basis for DOJ to seek appellate review in certain types of cases.

Graves joined DOJ in 1990 as a deputy attorney general in the Appeals, Writs and Trials Section. In short order, she was appointed Supervising Deputy Attorney General in charge of the section’s trial team. In that role, Graves directed all of the investigative and trial work for the section. And she personally handled scores of criminal prosecutions.

Prior to joining DOJ, Graves spent seven years with the Amador County District Attorney’s Office.

Graves has been married for 35 years to Jim Graves, who recently retired as the principal attorney for the Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services. They have one son, Will, 28. When Graves is not in court, she’s often on a horse, nourishing her lifelong passion for riding and showing quarter horses.

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