Lee Cunningham, SLO assistant DA, retiring

Lee Cunningham

San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham announced his retirement Tuesday.

Cunningham, the second-in-command at the district attorney’s office, had served as a prosecutor in SLO County for more than 32 years. He spent the last three years as assistant DA.

“The decision to retire has been a very difficult one for me, due to the fact that I truly love this job,” Cunningham stated in a memo to his colleagues. “It has been a great pleasure to work with each and every one of you, to see you every work day, and to share the common goal of ‘truth and justice.’ The way I see it, we have the best jobs, in the best place, in the world. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have stayed here 32.5 years.”

In all, Cunningham will have had a 46-year career in San Luis Obispo County, most of which was spent in law enforcement. He began in 1971 as a correctional officer at the California Men’s Colony, and in 1973, Cunningham became a San Luis Obispo police officer.

During a six-year stint on the San Luis Obispo force, Cunningham attended law school and passed the bar exam. Cunningham then practiced law as private attorney for six years prior to joining the district attorney’s office in 1985.

“I am very grateful to Lee for his genuine friendship, his trusted advice and for his excellence in service to this office and to our community. I will miss him immensely,” District Attorney Dan Dow said.

While a SLO County deputy DA, Cunningham prosecuted several murder cases, including the case of Freddie Lewis, who was found to have beaten, sexually assaulted and murdered a homeless woman. Lewis received a life sentence for the crime.

Cunningham also prosecuted Kaylee Weisenberg, who struck and killed a CHP officer in North County. The jury found that Weisenberg was driving under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, and jurors convicted her of second-degree murder.

As assistant district attorney, Cunningham has served as the chair of the SLO County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force and co-chair of the Intimate Partner Violence Coalition. Likewise, for two decades, he participated on the California District Attorneys Association Legislative Committee.

Cunningham’s last day with the DA’s office will be Dec. 30. His son, Jordan Cunningham, currently represents the Central Coast in the California State Assembly.