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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 9:08 am | Fair 54º


Ex-DA Christie Stanley Dies of Lung Cancer at 61

Elected in 2006, county's top prosecutor battled health issues throughout her term

Christie Stanley, Santa Barbara County’s first woman district attorney, died Sunday morning of lung cancer after a long battle with the disease that had forced her to step down from the job earlier this year. She was 61.

Acting District Attorney Ann Bramsen confirmed Sunday afternoon that Stanley had died at her Santa Maria home. The story was first reported by Noozhawk on Sunday morning.

“Christie was a dynamic, powerful woman who carried herself with poise, dignity and grace,” Bramsen said in a statement. “She was a skilled and polished trial lawyer and a considerate and thoughtful administrator.

“Christie was a leader in California’s criminal justice system and in the community where she lived and served. She leaves behind a strong legacy for prosecutors who strive to be as exceptional as she was inside and outside the courtroom. Her death is a tragic loss to the criminal justice system and the community. She will be sorely missed.”

Stanley, who battled lung cancer and other health issues since her election in 2006, officially resigned from the position in late January.

Stanley was the first woman to be elected as the county’s district attorney, and she won nearly 70 percent of the vote in the 2006 campaign. Last year, she had announced her intention to seek re-election but her condition worsened and she ultimately decided against it.

She joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1980, after graduating magna cum laude from Ventura College of Law (now the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law) and spending two years in private civil practice. She was the first female prosecutor in the North County office and was named assistant district attorney for the North County in 1991.

Her health condition, and her extended absence from the office, set off a highly contentious competition to succeed her between Joyce Dudley, a senior deputy district attorney, and Josh Lynn, whom Stanley had named acting district attorney.

After Stanley’s resignation, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors decided that Bramsen, who had been the chief assistant district attorney in the division’s North County office, would fill the role until the outcome of the June 8 election is known.

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors, issued a statement on behalf of her fellow supervisors.

“We were very saddened to learn of Christie Stanley’s passing this morning, “Wolf said. “On behalf of my fellow supervisors and all county employees, our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to Christie’s family, friends and loved ones during this time.

“California’s judicial system has lost a tireless advocate for the victims of crime and upholding the laws of our society. Christie’s dedication to serving the residents of Santa Barbara County for nearly 30 years has made her a role model for all who will follow in her footsteps of judicial public service.”

Dudley expressed similar sentiments.

“My deepest sympathy to the Stanley family for their great loss,” Dudley told Noozhawk on Sunday afternoon. “I began working with Christie in 1990 and I have always known her to be a tireless prosecutor and advocate for crime victims. Her legacy will live on through the hard-working and dedicated people in the office of the District Attorney.

“She will be greatly missed.”

Lynn said Stanley was a source of inspiration.

“Simply, Christie was the matriarch of our family here at the District Attorney’s Office,” he said. “She inspired us to be better prosecutors with her work and dedication to public safety, and to be better people with her dignity during her heroic battle with cancer. I am proud to call her my friend. My prayers and those of us here in the office go out to her husband, Gary, and her family as we mourn her passing.”

Sheriff Bill Brown worked closely with Stanley over the years and paid tribute to her efforts on behalf of public safety.

“Today I was deeply saddened to learn that Christie Stanley had passed away after her long and valiant battle against lung cancer,” Brown said. “Christie was a dear friend and colleague, a woman of extraordinary strength and grace whose dedicated work as a prosecutor and leader in the DA’s Office left a legacy of excellence, and has made Santa Barbara County a safer place. I will miss her greatly.

“On behalf of all the members of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, I extend our condolences to Gary (Stanley, her husband) and the other members of Christie’s family, and to her second family — the men and women of the DA’s Office.”

Craig Smith, who teaches law at the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law and writes a popular local blog, Craig Smith’s Blog, was a colleague of Stanley’s in the District Attorney’s Office in the early 1980s.

“When she first started out in the DA’s office she had the office next to mine,” Smith told Noozhawk in an e-mail. “And when I worked in Santa Maria for four years when I was the juvenile court commissioner, she was in charge of the North County for the DA. Few people around here were nicer than Christie.

“I was fortunate to have known her.”

Stanley is survived by her husband Gary; her daughters, Renee Edman and Dawn Wright; her stepchildren, Mark Stanley, Ryan Stanley and Tami Millican; her mother, Jeanette Claycamp; and her grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk.

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