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O’Brien takes second-in-command post

Christina Proctor

After a nine-year stint in the South Lake Tahoe office, Assistant District Attorney Sean O’Brien is moving up to second-in-command.

O’Brien, 49, was tapped to fill the chief assistant position left vacant by David Richmond’s appointment to the judicial bench in Amador County.

O’Brien started with the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office in 1989. After six years as a deputy district attorney, District Attorney Gary Lacy promoted O’Brien in 1995 to assistant in charge of the South Shore criminal team, and family support agency.



With Richmond’s judge appointment on Feb. 27, Lacy named O’Brien the acting chief assistant. On March 13, after an interview process, O’Brien was given the position.

“I really enjoy trial work. I’m a trial lawyer and I’m a tough prosecutor,” O’Brien said. “But, I’ve also discovered that administration can be fun and it’s challenging. I look forward to this new position. I see it as a different type of challenge.”



O’Brien was the lead prosecutor in the high-profile retrial of convicted murderer Charles Neely. Neely was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to death for the murder of Bruce Chester during a robbery inside Chester’s Cameron Park home. That conviction was overturned by the California Supreme Court because it ruled a tape recording containing self-incriminating comments from Neely was obtained in a manner that violated Neely’s constitutional right to an attorney. Neely was convicted again in El Dorado County Superior Court, without the tape recording, in August 1996.

O’Brien, a Sacramento native, spent three years in the U.S. Army before coming back to California in 1969 and studying at Sacramento City College. He finished his undergraduate degree in international and comparative studies at Boston University. O’Brien worked for several years in the Boston mayor’s office before returning to California to get his law degree at the University of Santa Clara. After graduation in 1979, O’Brien spent years as a criminal defense attorney as well as time as a prosecutor in other California district attorneys offices.

While El Dorado County is interviewing for a new assistant district attorney O’Brien will be working between Placerville and South Lake Tahoe. In his new position O’Brien will spend a majority of his time in Placerville, but will still be connected with the South Lake Tahoe office.

“We’ve been in Tahoe for nine years and we’ve loved it,” O’Brien said. “The only drawback is the short growing season. It doesn’t leave much time for gardening. My wife and I have really enjoyed the people we’ve met and the friends we’ve made.”

The O’Briens said they won’t be moving to the West Slope right away, but they are looking for a home.

“Maybe we’ll buy a vacation cabin in South Lake Tahoe,” O’Brien said with a smile.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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