Mayor Breed Submits Two Nominations for the San Francisco Police Commission

Retired Judge C. Don Clay nominated to replace Commissioner Jim Byrne and bring decades of experience on the Alameda County bench. Current Commissioner Debra Walker nominated for reappointment.
April 18, 2024

San Francisco, CA – Today, Mayor London N. Breed nominated retired Alameda County Judge C. Don Clay to the San Francisco Police Commission, the seven-member body charged with setting policy for the Police Department and the Department of Police Accountability (DPA) and conducting disciplinary hearings when police conduct charges are filed. Judge Clay will replace Police Commissioner Jim Byrne. Mayor Breed also nominated long-time community leader Debra Walker for reappointment to the Commission.  

“The Police Commission serves an important role in our city government, especially as we’re working to implement critical public safety reforms, and I am very glad to nominate Judge Clay and Commissioner Walker, who will each bring their own distinctive expertise and background to that body,” said Mayor Breed. “I also want to thank Jim Byrne for his service on the Commission. He and Commissioner Walker have worked hard with the Police Department and other City partners to reduce crime and advance public safety, and to increase officer morale and recruitment, all while completing the 272 reforms laid out by the Department of Justice.”  

Judge C. Don Clay recently retired from the Alameda County Superior Court after serving over twenty years on the bench. As a judge, he presided over the criminal jury trial department and calendars for much of his career and he was the Presiding Judge for Alameda County in 2012 and 2013. In 2019, he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to be a Special Master to California’s Commission on Judicial Performance, where he oversaw hearings on state judicial misconduct complaints. He continued as a Special Master until his retirement in March 2024.  

Judge Clay earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a juris doctorate degree from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings). Judge Clay had practiced both criminal and civil law in Alameda County from 1981 to 2002 where he handled a broad range of criminal cases from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies and white–collar crime. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Clay worked as the First Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of California from 2002 to 2003. He has previously served on other City commissions, including the Fire Commission and the Juvenile probation Commission. Judge Clay is a long-time member of the San Francisco Olympic Club and served as the first African-American member of the Club’s Board of Directors.  

“I am honored to be nominated by Mayor London Breed to serve on the San Francisco Police Commission,” said Judge Clay. “I am grateful to Mayor Breed for her trust in giving me the opportunity to continue my public service on this vital and important Commission." 

For over 30 years, Debra Walker has run her own business as an artist, living and working in one of San Francisco’s oldest artist cooperatives. As an active member of the San Francisco community, Debra has served as the past president of both the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and the San Francisco Arts Democratic Club. Additionally, she has served as a tenant representative on the Building Inspection Commission and on the board of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research center. Debra has also served as an officer in the Women’s Caucus and the LGBTQ Caucus of the California Democratic Party. 

“I have been honored to serve on the Police Commission for the past year and half, and I have worked hard to help set the Police Department on a course to better and more effective policing,” said Commissioner Walker. “I look forward to continuing this work with my fellow commissioners, and also continuing the work I am doing to create opportunities for more effective community partnerships designed to enhance public safety.”   

Mayor Breed’s nomination of Judge Clay and Commissioner Walker must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.  

Outgoing Commissioner Jim Byrne was born and raised in San Francisco by Irish immigrant parents and is an attorney who specializes in immigration law. After graduating from law school, he established his own law practice in San Francisco in 1983. His practice of immigration law includes deportation defense, family-based immigration, and employment-based immigration. Throughout the course of his career, Byrne has protected immigrant families from deportation, represented clients in asylum proceedings, and represented thousands of clients from all over the world.  He regularly offers pro bono immigration assistance, advising people from all over the world on their immigration cases. He has lived in San Francisco’s Sunset District with his wife Maureen O-Neill for nearly 40 years. 

“I would like to thank Mayor Breed for the wonderful opportunity to serve the people of San Francisco as a member of the Police Commission,” said Jim Byrne