Sterling Larnerd

Deputy County Counsel

Sterling Larnerd joined the Office of the County Counsel in 2022.  As a member of the Public Safety and Justice team, she advises the County’s criminal justice and emergency response agencies.  Prior to joining the County, Sterling was a Staff Attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Previously, she gained broad experience in criminal justice law and policy as a public defender, community organizer, and civil liberties advocate.  Sterling also teaches legal writing and research at Santa Clara University School of Law.

Sterling’s professional expertise includes:

  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Constitutional violations and civil liberties
  • Habeas corpus and post-conviction remedies
  • Sentencing mitigation and alternatives
  • Civil and Appellate procedure


  • Syracuse University College of Law, J.D., 2001
    • Form & Accuracy Editor, Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce
    • George C. McCrillis Public Interest Scholar
    • New York State Bar Association Award for Public Service
  • Trinity College Dublin, 1999
    • Certificate in Comparative Criminal Justice and Human Rights
  • Florida International University, B.A., Political Science, 1998
    • NASA Project VISION Fellow
    • Victory Institute Scholar
    • Sigma Tau Delta

Professional Associations

  • Member, Santa Clara County Bar Association (2022-present)
  • Member, The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society (2015-present)
  • Member, National Lawyers Guild (1999-present)
  • Former Chair of the Board of Directors, Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (2008-2010)

Prior Experience

  • Staff Attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2010-2022)
  • Consultant on legal briefing, criminal sentencing, and post-conviction relief (2005-2010)
  • Assistant Public Defender at the Alexandria Office of the Public Defender (2001-2004)

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