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Casey Gwinn
City Attorney of San Diego
In office
Preceded byJohn W. Witt
Succeeded byMike Aguirre
Personal details
EducationStanford University (BA)
University of California, Los Angeles (J.D.)

Casey Gwinn is an American attorney who served as the elected City Attorney of San Diego, California, from 1996 through 2004. He is credited as a pioneer of the Family Justice Center concept, under which multiple agencies work together under one roof to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.[1]

Early life and education

Gwinn grew up on the campus of Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center, a facility in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California; his father, a Congregational minister, was director of the center. Gwinn graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School in 1978. He then obtained a political science degree from Stanford University and a law degree from UCLA.[2]


Casey Gwinn went to work for the San Diego City Attorney's office right after law school. He founded the City's Child Abuse/Domestic Violence Unit in August 1986.[3] Starting in 1985 he led the Domestic Violence Unit within the City Attorney's office. He became known as a hard-line prosecutor of domestic violence cases, winning 19 of his first 21 cases and eventually prosecuting more than 10,000 such cases.[4] Gwinn pioneered an approach to domestic violence prosecution known as "evidence-based" prosecution, promoting the investigation and prosecution of cases even if the victim was unable or unwilling to participate with the prosecution.[3] His approach was adopted by jurisdictions across the United States and he became a frequent lecturer for the National District Attorney's Association.[3]

In 1989, Gwinn created the San Diego Task Force Against Domestic Violence with Ashley Walker, the founder of Battered Women's Services at the YWCA of San Diego County.[5] The task force created the first countywide protocols in San Diego County on the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases, embracing Gwinn's pro-prosecution approach toward domestic violence offenders.[5]

In August 1989, Gwinn first proposed the creation of a center where all the agencies, government and non-government, would co-locate in one place, allowing adult and child survivors to receive all their services in one place.[6] His proposal was rejected by the district attorney, police chief, and sheriff. Nevertheless, Gwinn, working with fellow prosecutor Gael Strack, began adding on-site partner agencies in the San Diego City Attorney's Office in 1990.[6] In 1991, Gwinn founded the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and served as its first president until 1999.[6]

The collaborative approach in the San Diego City Attorney's Office, which began after Gwinn's proposal for multi-agency center was rejected in 1989, gained national attention in 1993 when his Child Abuse/Domestic Violence Unit was profiled as a model for the nation by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.[7] Later in 1993, Gwinn's work was profiled on "NOW" with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric on NBC.[7]

In 1996, Gwinn was elected San Diego City Attorney, taking leadership of a staff of nearly 330 attorneys, investigators, and support professionals.[8] As City Attorney he led the creation in 2002 of the multi-agency San Diego Family Justice Center serving victims of domestic violence and their children.[9] He had first proposed the concept in 1989.[10] He named Assistant City Attorney Gael Strack to be the first Family Justice Center Director.[11] Along with opening the San Diego Family Justice Center, Gwinn also founded a camping and mentoring program as part of the Center called Camp HOPE San Diego.[8] He argued that children who witnessed domestic violence are more likely to be violent in the future, and goes on to say, "once we increase hope, we can change the trajectory of their lives".[12][clarification needed] He was also strongly against pornography, saying "I have seen a very strong link between pornography and child abuse and sexual assault as a prosecutor for many years."[13] In 2003, his work was profiah on the Oprah Winfrey Show rapidly expanding knowledge of the Family Justice Center framework for helping adult and child victims of abuse.[14] In October 2003, President George W. Bush recognized him as the founder of the Family Justice Center movement and asked him to help develop Family Justice Centers across the United States.[15]

There are now more than 100 Family Justice Centers across the United States as well as centers in more than 20 countries around the world. Family Justice Centers have been identified as a "best practice" in helping domestic violence victims and their children.[16]

After being term-limited out of his position as City Attorney in 2004, he helped to lead President George W. Bush's Family Justice Center Initiative, which over the period 2004–2006 helped to open fifteen Family Justice Centers modeled on the one in San Diego.[17]

In 2007, Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack were featured on CBS The Early Show with Harry Smith.[18] In 2011, Gwinn and Strack co-founded the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, focused on addressing near and non-fatal strangulation cases in domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and child abuse cases.[19] Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence.[20] Gwinn and Strack have argued that non-fatal strangulation cases should be identified as the "edge of a homicide".[21]

In 2013, Gwinn developed a statewide model for Camp HOPE California, bringing children exposed to domestic violence to camp from across the state.[22] In 2015, Camp HOPE America went nationwide under Gwinn's leadership. In 2018, Camp HOPE America operated in 18 states.[22]

He continues to be active in the family justice movement. He is president of Alliance for HOPE International, formerly the Family Justice Center Alliance. Its goal is to "meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children."[17]

Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack have been recognized for identifying the relationship between domestic violence, trauma-exposed children, and strangulation of women.[23] Gwinn has published or co-published ten books since 2006.[24] In 2015 he published a book, Cheering for the Children, in which he contends that childhood trauma is the number one public health issue in the country.[25]


He is married and has three children.[2]

Electoral history

1994 San Diego County District Attorney democratic primary[26]
Candidate Votes %
Paul Pfingst 129,353 31.40
Larry Stirling 94,093 22.84
Casey Gwinn 89,981 21.85
Ed Miller (incumbent) 55,341 13.44
Mike Schaefer 43,134 10.47
Total votes 411,902 100
1996 San Diego City Attorney election[27]
Candidate Votes %
Casey Gwinn 122,559 100
Total votes 122,559 100
2000 San Diego City Attorney election[28]
Candidate Votes %
Casey Gwinn 139,620 100
Total votes 139,620 100


  1. ^ Bell, Diane (April 24, 2015). "Gwinn could write book on abuse, and did". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Plaskon, Ky (September 2, 1999). "God, Gays, and Casey Gwinn". San Diego Reader. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Gwinn, C., Strack, G., (2006). Hope for Hurting Families: Creating Family Justice Centers Across America. Volcano, CA: Volcano Press.
  4. ^ Plaskon, Ky (September 2, 1999). "God, Gays, and Casey Gwinn". San Diego Reader. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Gwinn, C. O'Dell, A. (1993). "Stopping the Violence: The Role of the Police Officer and the Prosecutor", 20 Western State University Law Review 1501.
  6. ^ a b c "History". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Casey Gwinn". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Gwinn, C., Strack, G., Adams S., Lovelace, R. & Norman, D. (2007). The Family Justice Center Collaborative Model. St. Louis University Public Law Review, 27, 1–42.
  9. ^ McDonald, Jeff (March 15, 2013). "Domestic violence program sponsor pulls out". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  10. ^ "Alliance for HOPE International President Casey Gwinn, Esq. Named as one of Women's eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for 2016". Alliance for HOPE website. January 22, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  11. ^ Gwinn, C., Strack, G., Adams S., Lovelace, R. & Norman, D. (2007). The Family Justice Center Collaborative Model. St. Louis University Public Law Review, 27, 1–42.
  12. ^ Topinka, Conchita (February 2, 2018). "National Study: Camp HOPE America Has Positive Impact • Family Safety Center". Family Safety Center. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  13. ^ Plaskon, Ky (September 2, 1999). "God, Gays, and Casey Gwinn". San Diego Reader. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  14. ^ Alliance for HOPE International (May 15, 2017). "Casey Gwinn of the San Diego Family Justice Center on Oprah – January 2003". Retrieved February 7, 2018 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ "George W. Bush: Remarks on Domestic Violence Prevention". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  16. ^ "Retrieved January 27, 2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on February 13, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Alliance for HOPE International President Casey Gwinn, Esq. Named as one of Women's eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for 2016". Alliance for HOPE website. January 22, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  18. ^ "Retrieved January 27, 2018". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  19. ^ "About Us". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  20. ^ "Strangulation Is Most Lethal Form of Domestic Violence". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  21. ^ Strack G, Gwinn C. (2011). "On the edge of a homicide: Strangulation as a prelude". Criminal Justice. 26 (3): 32–36.
  22. ^ a b "Our History – Camp HOPE America". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  23. ^ "Strangulation and Domestic Violence Murders". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  24. ^ "Retrieved January 28, 2018" (PDF). Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  25. ^ Bell, Diane (April 24, 2015). "Gwinn could write book on abuse, and did". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  26. ^ "** OFFICIAL ** COUNTY WIDE CUMULATIVE REPORT SAN DIEGO COUNTY - PRIMARY ELECTION June 7, 1994". San Diego County. June 28, 1994. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  27. ^ "** OFFICIAL ** COUNTY WIDE CUMULATIVE REPORT SAN DIEGO COUNTY - PRIMARY ELECTION MARCH 26, 1996". San Diego County. April 16, 1996. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  28. ^ "** OFFICIAL ** COUNTY WIDE CUMULATIVE REPORT SAN DIEGO COUNTY - PRIMARY ELECTION MARCH 7, 2000". San Diego County. March 24, 2000. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
This page was last edited on 22 November 2020, at 01:20
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