Thien Ho ’98
Ho joined the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office in 2004. Ho has risen through the ranks of the office and prosecuted just about every category of crime imaginable — from misdemeanor and general felony cases, to sex crimes, to gang and hate crimes.
Before assuming his role as the elected district attorney, Ho was assigned to the homicide team. In this position he prosecuted the Golden State Killer, one of California’s most notorious serial killers. The undertaking was made possible by advances in genetic genealogy. Ho’s successful prosecution gave a voice to the thirteen homicide victims and approximately 50 rape survivors in 11 jurisdictions who had waited more than 32 years for justice.
Ho describes the courtroom as “the great equalizer.”
“The only thing that matters in the courtroom is justice and the truth,” Ho said. “If you are unprepared, if you are incompetent, if you are lying, there is no place for you to hide in the courtroom.”
Ho is now responsible for leading the second largest district attorney’s office in Northern California and seventh largest in the state, with a staff of 175 prosecutors, 432 employees and a budget of more than $100 million dollars.
Ho is one of only five prosecutors of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry in the country and the first to become district attorney in Sacramento. He was recognized as one of the Sacramento Bee’s AAPI Change Makers in 2022.
“I believe that the District Attorney’s Office needs to reflect the community that we serve,” Ho said. “We need to reflect the community that we serve in terms of the perspectives, the background and the life experiences that we have.”
One way Ho is working to achieve this is by creating a Community Advisory Council, which is made up of members from diverse areas in the Sacramento community.
Ho attributes competing as part of McGeorge’s nationally-ranked mock trial program to setting the foundation for his work as a trial attorney and prosecutor.
“The best experience that I had in law school was being on the mock trial team for two years,” Ho reflected.
Ho still takes to heart lessons taught by the late Trial Advocacy Director Joseph Taylor, one of his mentors at McGeorge.
“One of the things Joe Taylor taught me, besides trial skills, was that your reputation precedes you. Everything you do inside and outside the courtroom must be of the utmost integrity and ethics, and when you have integrity and ethics, and your search is for the truth and to render justice, the right thing will always happen,” he said.
Despite his busy schedule, Ho consistently gives back to McGeorge’s mock trial program. For the past 17 years, Ho and fellow mock trial coach and Adjunct Professor Keith Hill ’96, have coached students as they represent McGeorge at some of the most prestigious mock trial competitions across the country.
“True leadership is creating other leaders,” Ho said. “The students that we have coached and mentored over the years have found great success in the program and a great foundation as trial attorneys and attorneys. We see them in my office as prosecutors. We see them as public defenders. We see them in civil practice. The mock trial program has been a tremendous success in turning out amazing leaders and advocates not just here in Sacramento, but in so many different areas throughout the State of California.”