Tony Rackauckas is grateful for the privilege to have spent his life serving the public. Called “a tough, no-nonsense DA” by national television talk show hosts, colleagues, and citizens, his passion and motivation for his job stem from the patriotism and philanthropy he learned as a child growing up in a military family in East Los Angeles.
Tony was the second born of six children (three sisters and two brothers) to Maria Socorro Limón and Anthony Joseph Rackauckas. On his mother’s side, Tony is the second generation born and raised in the United States. His maternal grandparents, Alejandro and Carolina Limón, immigrated to the United States from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico around 1921 and settled in Arizona to look for a new life and start a family.
In the late 1930s, Maria met Anthony, a Naval Officer, whose family immigrated from Lithuania. They married in March 1940. Tony was born three years later on March 18, 1943, and mainly spoke Spanish for the first three years of his life.
Tony’s father Anthony spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Chief. When Tony was 19 years old, he was inspired by his father to serve the public by enlisting in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and served on active duty from 1962 to 1964. He remained in the U.S. Army Reserve for four more years before receiving an Honorable Discharge.
After his service in the Army, Tony studied political science at California State University, Long Beach. “I was grateful to work nights as a security guard. It allowed me to take classes during the day and support my young, growing family.” He went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in 1971.
From 1968 to 1972, Tony worked as a social worker in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, where he was selected as one of four social workers to implement and run a pilot program to assist unemployed fathers of families receiving welfare in gaining employment. The program continues to be successful and utilized statewide.
In 1972, Tony joined the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA). Over the next 15 years as a deputy district attorney, he conducted over 40 homicide cases and well over 100 felony trials including rape, robbery, arson, assault, burglary, fraud, narcotics, and child molestation.
In 1982, Tony took an unpaid leave of absence from the OCDA to lead a statewide campaign to remove three rogue California Supreme Court Justices in order to uphold the death penalty, enforce the law as written, and restore integrity to the State judiciary.
“Tony Rackauckas, who for more than a quarter of a century has been working to bring better balance to our justice system, has not just talked the talk, he has walked the walk,” said longtime victim advocate Collene Campbell, National Chair of Force 100 and Founder and President of Memory Of Victims Everywhere (M.O.V.E).
After briefly working in private practice, he was appointed as a Municipal Court Judge in 1990 by Governor George Deukmejian. Three years later, Governor Pete Wilson appointed Tony to the Superior Court, and he was named Presiding Judge of its Appellate Department in 1996.
In June 1998, Tony ran for District Attorney and was overwhelmingly elected to the post by the citizens of Orange County. He won the election by 23 percentage points over his opponent, becoming the first person from outside the OCDA to be elected District Attorney in more than 40 years. He was re-elected in March 2002 by 22 percentage points. In June 2006 and 2010, Tony was re-elected to his third and fourth terms with 100 percent of the vote, running unopposed.