S. Cunningham, III
Los Angeles Police Commission
David S. Cunningham, III
President, Los Angeles Police Commission
David S. Cunningham III, an African American redevelopment and land
use attorney, was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission by
Mayor James Hahn in August of 2001. The son of former City Councilman
David S. Cunningham, Jr., he has been a resident of the City of Los
Angeles for most of his life. Commissioner Cunningham’s appointment
to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners is the culmination
of two decades of distinguished service as a lawyer and public servant.
Committed to bettering the Los Angeles community through his legal
work and involvement with policy-making boards, Commissioner Cunningham’s
credentials include a background of professional accomplishment, community
advocacy and academic achievement.
Commissioner Cunningham began his legal career as an attorney in the
Honors Program with the United States Department of Justice. As counsel
in the Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division, he analyzed
and litigated complex questions regarding application of the Voting
Rights Act of 1965 and advised U.S. governmental agencies, members
of Congress, state elected officials, private attorneys and members
of the public on changes in election law. He also represented the
United States in all phases of voting rights litigation, and analyzed
gaps in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. His study of devices
used to dilute the strength of minority voting aided Congress in its
decision to extend the Voting Rights Act another 25 years. In addition
to working on voting rights violations, Commissioner Cunningham prosecuted
criminal matters through the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District
of Columbia as part of his tenure under the Honors Program.
After leaving the Justice Department in 1983, Mr. Cunningham accepted
a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Terry J. Hatter, Jr., who
is now the presiding judge of the United States District Court for
the Central District of California in Los Angeles. As a judicial clerk,
Commissioner Cunningham conducted research on a broad range of federal
issues and wrote bench memoranda. He also supervised and edited the
work of a staff of legal externs.
In 1984, Commissioner Cunningham joined the Beverly Hills office of
the nationally recognized law firm of Finley, Kumble, Heine, Underberg,
Manley & Casey, where he represented the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC), in directors and officers liability actions. While
at the firm, Commissioner Cunningham joined the staff of Loyola Law
School, where he served as an adjunct professor from 1987 to 1991
teaching a financial institutions class and trial advocacy.
Commissioner Cunningham continued his civil litigation practice with
the law firm of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine in Los Angeles in
the late 1980s, before becoming "Of Counsel" to the law firm of Jackson
& Lewis (now Jackson & Associates).
Over the past decade, Commissioner Cunningham has worked with municipal
agencies to develop the economic base of the local community, especially
in blighted and/or contaminated areas in Los Angeles. Most recently,
his focus has been on helping to assess "Brownfields" parcels in South
Central Los Angeles, to assist the Community Redevelopment Agency
("CRA") turn underutilized parcels into more commercially productive
enterprises. The ultimate goal of this work is to create more jobs
and business opportunities to an under-employed and under-served community.
As outside counsel for the CRA on various projects, Commissioner Cunningham
has also litigated a number of matters involving land acquisition
through voluntary land negotiations and through the use of eminent
domain powers. His activities in this regard have ranged from precedent
setting matters such as Worldwide Enterprises, Inc. vs. CRA, a condemnation
matter that helped to clarify certain key provisions of the Eminent
Domain Law, to the management of litigation involving parcels needed
for the newly built Staples Arena, home of the LA Lakers. He has also
been involved in the relocation of persons who were affected by the
condemnation actions of the CRA.
Besides the CRA, Commissioner Cunningham has represented the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority in land acquisition matters. He has also
represented private companies in administrative proceedings before
various municipal boards and agencies. Commissioner Cunningham has
an extensive history of serving the community. He has served on numerous
boards and committees including the Los Angeles Urban League, the
Los Angeles Business Council, the Watts Health Foundation Community
Trust, and the Los Angeles Bar Association. Most recently, Commissioner
Cunningham has served as a member of the Midnight Mission Advisory
Committee for the Acquisition of New Facilities. Through his leadership,
the Midnight Mission has sought to expand its facilities to include
room for homeless families, in addition to chemically dependent individuals.
In the process, he has helped to obtain on-going health care coverage
for approximately 50 families. Commissioner Cunningham now sits on
the Board of Directors of the Midnight Mission.
In 1977, Commissioner Cunningham graduated summa cum laude and Phi
Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California where he was
a columnist for the university paper and a member of the speech and
debate team. He also served as a summer fellow in 1976 with the American
Economic Association at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
working on macroeconomic models for the U.S. economy.
As a student at New York University School of Law, he was awarded
a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Service Scholarship and was voted regional
best advocate in the Frederick Douglas National Moot Court Competition.
He received a fellowship to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York
and was a founding member of the law school’s Public Interest Law
Foundation, a student based organization founded to fund entry-level
positions for attorneys seeking employment in public service oriented