Melissa Lyons is a respected Deputy District Attorney, a tireless community volunteer, and now a candidate for LA County Superior Court Judge.
Melissa’s family came from Jamaica to the US when she was 11 years old. They settled in a small farming town in Iowa where they were the only black family. The family experienced some racism, but there was far more kindness. And over time, Melissa thrived in her new community.
By the time she graduated from high school, she had been elected class president, selected to speak at her high school commencement ceremony, and won a scholarship from the American Legion for a speech she delivered on the separation of church and state. Those experiences impressed upon Melissa the importance of diversity both in surroundings and experience -- of speaking up when something was unfair and standing in solidarity with those who are being mistreated and may be afraid or unable to speak up for themselves.
Melissa attended undergrad at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and chose to attend law school (at Loyola University) because of her desire to be a voice for others and to speak out where injustice and inequality exist. In law school, she participated in legal clinics in Hispanic, African American and Korean communities, among others. She joined Loyola's Black Law Students Association's Thurgood Marshall Trial Advocacy Team, and, later, the school's Byrne Trial Advocacy Team.
Since 2006, Melissa Lyons has been a Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. She has completed more than 85 trials. For the last five years, Melissa was assigned to the District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Division, including a two year tenure at Stuart House, where she exclusively prosecuted sexual crimes against children. She was recently promoted to Deputy in Charge of the Compton Juvenile Division.
In recognition of Melissa’s outstanding dedication both in and out of the courtroom, the District Attorney’s office in 2021 awarded her the Michael P. Noyes Humanitarian Award, which honors an employee who donates significant personal time and physical, financial and/or emotional support to help another individual or community in need. The award was named for retired Deputy District Attorney Michael P. Noyes, who in 2001 donated part of his lung to a girl whose life was threatened by cystic fibrosis.
Melissa is a dedicated coach of the Loyola Law School Byrne Trial Advocacy Team, a nationally ranked competitive mock trial team. When Melissa herself was a member while attending Loyola Law School, her team was the first in Loyola history to win the prestigious final round of the National Trial Competition. She was also named National Best Advocate. Coming back to the team as a coach has been a special milestone for her.
In her spare time, Melissa is a passionate member of the capoeira community. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art created for self-defense by the enslaved Africans of Brazil. It is history, music, culture, dance, and martial arts all in one. After several years of training, Melissa became an assistant teacher of capoeira. In addition to standard classes, she has taught free community classes with the Los Angeles Summer Night Lights program, which provides free summer activities in the parks of gang affected neighborhoods. Melissa is also a former board member of the Global Girl Project, which implements leadership programming for young women from under developed countries.
From Jamaica to Los Angeles and beyond, the breadth of experiences Melissa Lyons has had, personally and professionally, have undeniably shaped who she is today. As a Judge, Melissa will ensure that each and every person who comes into her courtroom is given an opportunity to be heard and is treated with fairness and dignity, regardless of their background.