District Attorney Tom Orloff Announces Retirement

Bay City News
Tuesday September 08, 2009 - 03:16:00 PM

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff announced at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he has decided to retire, effective as soon as the board can appoint a replacement. 

Orloff, 66, who has been in the office nearly 40 years and has headed it for the past 15, recommended that the board act next week to appoint Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to fill the rest of his four-year term, which expires at the end of next year. 

The district attorney’s position will be on the ballot next year. 

Orloff told the Board of Supervisors, “If you select Nancy, next year the voters will decide if your choice of Nancy was correct. I am confident they will affirm your selection.” 

Orloff’s announcement seemed to take the board by surprise. 

After the meeting, Orloff said he had simply decided that “it’s time” to retire. 

“I still have my good health, and there are some things I want to do,” he said. 

Orloff said, “My grandson is one year old and I want to spend time with him so he gets to know his grandfather.” 

Supervisor Gail Steele told Orloff, “You’ve done a good job and have represented the county well.” 

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker said, “We’re very fortunate to have had your leadership the last 15 years.” 

In his announcement to the board, Orloff said, “Over the past 15 years as district attorney I have been called on to make many decisions. Many have received little or no public attention. A few have been scrutinized in the public eye.” 

One such decision was the question of whether to charge former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in connection with the shooting death of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station on Jan. 1. 

Some community leaders criticized Orloff for taking too long to file charges against Mehserle. Orloff did file a murder charge against Mehserle on Jan. 13. 

According to Mehserle’s lawyer, Michael Rains, it is the first murder prosecution in California of a police officer for an on-duty homicide. 

On Feb. 10, a civil rights group delivered a petition to Orloff with more than 20,000 signatures asking that he charge a second BART police officer, Tony Pirone, in connection with Grant’s death, but Orloff has declined to do so. 

O’Malley, 55, has been in the District Attorney’s office for 25 years and has been chief assistant district attorney for 10 years. 

She said Orloff’s retirement “is a great loss” and said “Tom has been a great leader.”