San Jose Mercury News (CA)
October 1, 1988
Section: Local
Edition: Morning Final
Page: 1B

BRANDON BAILEY, Mercury News Staff Writer

An 11th-hour stay from the California Supreme Court on Friday saved Sheriff Robert Winter and his deputies -- again -- from a plan to place Santa Clara County jails under control of a civilian-run agency.

Word of the high court's order drew cheers in a San Jose courtroom, where Winter and many of his staff had just heard a lower court judge rule against them.

The somber mood of the sheriff and his deputies changed a moment before 5 p.m., when one of Winter's attorneys reported getting notification from the Supreme Court in San Francisco.

''It's another round," said Frank Hall, the county corrections chief who was prepared to assume full control of the jails Monday morning. With a grim smile, he shook hands with the sheriff, whose face flushed with emotion.

''I am real happy," said Winter. "As I understand it, all bets are off."

Hall has been directing many jail operations for the past two weeks, with help from Winter's staff. The state's 6th District Court of Appeal said Sept. 16 that Santa Clara County has authority to transfer the jails from the sheriff to a department of correction.

County officials had been scrambling to transfer 375 sheriff's deputies and more than 200 civilian workers during a two-week transition period that was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. Monday.

''This case has been like a roller coaster," said Hall, who agreed with Winter's assessment that the newest ruling puts the jails back in the sheriff's control.

The stay is temporary. Attorneys said it may last days or months, while the Supreme Court considers arguments by all sides in the case.

Moments before the news was announced, Superior Court Judge Leslie Nichols had said he wouldn't grant a similar order requested by a lone deputy, Ronald Levine, in part because the case is before the Supreme Court.


Sheriff Robert Winter: 'I am real happy. As I understand it, all bets are off.'

Copyright (c) 1988 San Jose Mercury News