Retired DA Jim Fox dead at 75

Retired San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Fox
Retired San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Fox

Daily Post Staff Writer

Former San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Fox, who was the top prosecutor in the county for 27 years, died yesterday (Jan. 9). He was 75.

Fox died after a sudden illness, said his successor, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

“He was the greatest DA and one of the greatest men in the county,” Wagstaffe said about his mentor.
Fox grew up in Half Moon Bay, and attended Serra High School in San Mateo.

At the age of 8, Fox was inspired to go into law, according to a profile by the San Mateo County History Association.

He worked odd jobs while getting his bachelor’s and law degree at the University of San Francisco, the profile says.

After graduating from law school, Fox was a deputy district attorney between 1970 and 1974. He then entered into private practice, serving as his home town’s city attorney and was a member of the county’s private defender panel.

Fox ran in 1982 in a contested election to succeed retiring DA Keith Sorenson. Fox was elected, and ran unopposed six more times before retiring in 2010. Fox’s second in command, Wagstaffe, was elected following Fox’s retirement.

Fox was seen as a leader both in the county and among District Attorneys state and nationwide, according to a profile by the state bar association, Fox was the only elected DA to oppose the 1994 enactment of the three strikes law.

That version of the law sent people to prison for 25 years to life for a third felony, regardless of the offense. That version of the three strikes law was repealed in 2014.

Fox also served as president of the National District Attorneys Association and California District Attorneys Association.

Fox and his wife, Bonnie, lived in the same house in San Carlos for 42 years and were married for over 50.

Fox also enjoyed going on trips to Ireland.

Fox is survived by his wife, Bonnie, daughter Christine and sons Tim and Brian.
Services will be announced.


  1. RIP Jim, enjoyed your leadership as the county DA for many years and you were a true cops DA while being fair to all. You will be truly missed!

  2. So very sorry to here of Jim’s passing. He was a huge part of the Mel Mello, Sr family and Half Moon Bay. Our thoughts and prayers to Bonnie and family. RIP

  3. My condolences to all of Jim’s Family. Growing up in Jim’s home town of Half Moon Bay I always admired Jim and all of his family members. We had a close friendship especially during the years that Jim , his brothers Mike and Bob, and myself had paper routes. My thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s family.

  4. So very sorry for your loss Bonnie and family. Jim was a good human being who gave much to our community. Hugs to all of you.

  5. So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. I enjoyed my morning chats with Jim while I was employed with the County Counsel. He was always in early and we chatted about his family and trips to Ireland. Great guy!

  6. Bonnie, I was so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless you & your family. Nancy Reynoso

  7. Jim was a man of the utmost integrity. He lived his values everyday, and all citizens of San Mateo County were the beneficiaries. I will never forget Jim’s, and his staffs, professionalism and compassion in the aftermath of Millbrae Policeman David Checutt’s murder while he was trying to rescue another police officer who was under attack by a mentally ill man.
    It is easy to say the right things, but another to live them in the tragic moments like the killing of a Police officer.
    Jim was a true leader and a man who lived his faith – May God be wth you , Jim Fox

  8. Such a gentleman. What a loss. He gave lots of time to our local Bar and the State Bar and the ceremonial courtroom for our Historical Association. Affable, fair, smart, a great leader. We will all miss him.

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