Mason fan at DA helm
Late Sunday night bedtimes and Perry Mason reruns helped lead Lisa J. Serafini to the law.
“I think it was my dad’s plan all along,” Serafini said. “I think he thought ‘If I let her stay up and watch this she may become an attorney.’ “
Dad was right. Serafini, 31, a Southern California native, joined the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office this week as South Lake Tahoe’s newest deputy district attorney.
She fills the position left open by the death of Deputy District Attorney John Cox. Serafini was sworn in by Judge Suzanne Kingsbury Monday.
Before coming to South Lake Tahoe Serafini spent two years as a deputy district attorney in Merced County and two years in the county counsel’s office.
“Merced wasn’t very cosmopolitan,” Serafini said describing the rural farm community located about two hours south of Sacramento. “After I gave my notice everyone wanted to take me out to lunch. About midway through the first week we ran out of restaurants,” she said laughing. “There are more restaurants on Highway 50 here in town than there are in the whole county of Merced.”
Although Mason was a childhood hero, Serafini didn’t follow in his footsteps.
“It’s a great show. In an hour Perry finds a client that’s been wrongly accused, finds the evidence to prove it, and then gets him off. I realized early on that it probably wasn’t too realistic, but it’s still a great show” Serafini said. “That’s part of the reason I didn’t go into defense – because I know not every client is innocent.”
Serafini finished her undergraduate degree at California State University, Northridge, and then went on to the University of La Verne for her law degree. During school she worked as a law clerk in Los Angeles. Her first job out of school was with a personal injury firm in Santa Barbara.
“It wasn’t quite like ‘The Firm,'” Serafini said referring the movie. “They didn’t give me a car, or a place to live. But, then they didn’t threaten to kill me if I left.”
Serafini said when she and two other junior associates were let go because business was down it was more of a release than tragedy.
“I worked 16-hour days, poring over books, and dictating briefs,” she said. “I didn’t get to spend any time in court.”
That changed when she moved to Merced. Not only did she get to spend more time in the courtroom, she got to make a difference.
“I like to think that my responsibility is to see that justice is really served – holding the line when it needs to be and bending when it is called for.” Serafini said.
Serafini will take over the prosecution of all misdemeanor cases starting on Monday. She and her Jack Russell terrier, Niko, are still looking for housing on the South Shore.
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