Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced on Friday the hiring of Venus D. Johnson as Assistant District Attorney. Mrs. Johnson will help shape criminal justice policy for the office, in addition to overseeing the Family Violence Prosecution units, the Community Violence Reduction Unit, and the Homicide and Gang Units. Mrs. Johnson will begin her new role on February 5, 2018.
Most recently, Mrs. Johnson served as the Director of Public Safety for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. In that role, she served as a policy advisor to Mayor Schaaf and co-lead the Oakland Police Department’s working group responsible for creating the curriculum and teaching the second phase of procedural justice training for all sworn and professional staff. She also worked in partnership with the California Partnership for Safe Communities, the Oakland Police Department, and city and community leaders to support Ceasefire, Oakland’s data driven violence reduction strategy. Mrs. Johnson also worked closely with Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth to promote the principles of restorative justice within the city, school district and criminal justice system.
Previously, Mrs. Johnson served as the Associate Attorney General for California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. She managed the Attorney General’s executive team and served as a senior legal and policy advisor to the Attorney General — focusing particularly on criminal justice, law enforcement, the interplay of technology and privacy as it relates to law enforcement, police and community relations, criminal prosecutions as well as criminal appeals, habeas proceedings, and cert petitions. Prior to that, Mrs. Johnson was a Deputy Attorney General in the Attorney General’s Office of Legislative Affairs. As an expert in criminal law, she represented the Attorney General’s Office on a wide variety of matters before the California Legislature. Her duties included assisting in the development of the Attorney General’s legislative agenda and advising legislative staff and committee consultants on the technical and policy implications of proposed legislation.
Mrs. Johnson began her legal career as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in January of 2006. She spent eight years as a deputy district attorney prosecuting a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony cases. She served as a member of both the Child Sexual Assault Unit, and the Strike Team — a two-person team charged with handling Oakland’s most violent and repeat offenders. Mrs. Johnson also served as a member of the Officer Involved Shooting Team.
Prior to her departure from Alameda County, Ms. Johnson worked in the DNA Cold Case Unit, a two-person unit responsible for investigating and prosecuting unsolved homicide and sexual assault cases with the use of modern DNA technology. The unit was also tasked with working with local law enforcement agencies throughout Alameda County to reduce the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
Mrs. Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University, and her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Ms. Johnson previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for Holy Names High School in Oakland and is a past president of the Charles Houston Bar Association. Appointed by former Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, she currently serves as a member of the California Commission on Access to Justice, a state commission responsible for developing solutions to improve access to civil justice for low and moderate-income Californians.
“I am honored to join the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office,” said Mrs. Johnson. “As prosecutors, we are responsible for ensuring the safety of our communities, protecting victims of crime, and ensuring the scales of justice remain fair and balanced for everyone. I look forward to working side by side with local law enforcement and our community partners as we work toward creating safer communities and a more fair and just system.”