A woman poses for a photo inside.
Summer Stephan, ’86, leads the second-largest DA’s Office in California, and the fifth-largest in the United States.

District Attorney Summer Stephan, ’86, has devoted her life to protecting children and families, providing justice to the most vulnerable, and is a national leader in the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Summer rose through the ranks fighting for justice in the trenches before San Diego County voters overwhelmingly elected Summer as District Attorney in 2018 and again in 2022. As District Attorney, she leads the second-largest DA’s Office in California, and the fifth-largest in the United States, managing a professional staff of 1,000 employees, serving as the People’s Prosecutor for San Diego County and its more than three million residents. Summer leverages her extensive courtroom, management, and leadership experience to set clear public safety priorities in collaboration with law enforcement and the community, keeping San Diego County one of the safest urban regions in the United States. In 2022, Summer was named one of “The Five Best Prosecutors in America,” utilizing evaluation factors of integrity, fidelity to the rule of law, responsible innovations, and community relations.  

As a trial prosecutor, she tried more than 100 jury trials, including cases of complex homicides, sexually violent predators, child molestation, sexual assaults, school shooting, and human trafficking-related cases. She served as Chief of the DA’s North County Branch and Chief of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division, a special victims unit she pioneered.  

As the District Attorney, Summer opened a state-of-the-art Family Justice Center in the North County for victims of domestic violence and elder abuse. Summer launched a juvenile diversion program that diverted hundreds of kids away from the school to prison pipeline. Summer fulfilled her commitment to test every rape kit with over 2000 rape kits tested. Her office tripled the prosecutions of hate crimes and doubled down on the prosecution of deadly fentanyl dealers. Summer formed a specialized team to effectively combat Organized Retail Crime. Summer is implementing innovations to help address the intersection of crime and homelessness.  

DA Stephan holds leadership positions in public safety nationally and locally, including serving as President-Elect of the National District Attorneys Association, and co-chair of the National Association of Women Judges Human Trafficking committee. Summer served on the Governor’s Task Force for High-Risk Sex Offenders and Sexually-Violent Predators. She spearheaded the innovative “Know the Price” campaign, which focused on reducing sexual assaults on college campuses. She also led the award-winning “The Ugly Truth” human trafficking awareness campaign as well as the “San Diego Opioid Project,” aimed at reducing opioid and fentanyl overdoses. Summer led a coordinated effort to protect the community from targeted mass violence with a School Threats Task Force that implemented a unified protocol with all 42 school districts in San Diego County. In addition, she began an effective Veterans Treatment model in North County inspired by a heroic Marine Corps veteran.  

Summer is the recipient of numerous local, state, and federal awards, including an FBI commendation for organized crime prosecution, outstanding achievement award from the Deputy District Attorneys Association for the complex prosecution for the rape and murder of an elderly woman. She was named an “Angel of Anti-Human Trafficking” and a “Modern Day Abolitionist.” In 2022, she received the Bernard E. Witkin Esq. Award for Excellence in the Practice of Law, for her extraordinary contributions, leadership, and accomplishments as District Attorney. She was selected as the 2017 Southern California District Attorney of the Year by Crime Victims United, was awarded the Pathbreaker Award by Shared Hope International, and received the 2019 Humane Award for her work in fighting animal cruelty. 

Summer received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis and her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

Throughout 2024, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law will celebrate members of its vast alumni network in honor of the school’s 100-year anniversary. This post is part of a series highlighting 100 exceptional McGeorge School of Law alumni.  

Stay tuned for more blog posts as we celebrate the law school’s centennial anniversary.