Bonnie Dumanis is A Woman on Top

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is serving herself by helping others.

The view from the 13th floor of the Hall of Justice Courthouse in downtown San Diego is one to be remembered. The windows look out over the marina, and the reflective light of the water and glass from nearby buildings is remarkable. It’s hard to imagine a bad day in this office.

Bonnie Dumanis welcomed me at the door, like an old friend. The District Attorney’s office nuanced the comfort of home, a space very lived in. Nearly every inch of the walls were covered in photographed memories, artwork and even a few tokens from celebrity friends. She and I sat around a large conference table at the far side of the room, where the sunlight seemed brightest.

One wonders what it takes to do a job like Dumanis’s—how someone comes to bear the weight of decisions that impact a community, a state, a human life. The very table we sat around was where Dumanis had considered the death penalty during high-profile cases like that of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King. The thought of it made me shiver.

“We see the underbelly of the county of San Diego,” she said. “It’s not for everyone, and you have to know the law in order to get the job done right.”

Originally appeared in print June 2014.

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