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According to Goldsmith, his greatest legislative accomplishment had to do with juvenile justice. He chaired the Assembly subcommittee that put together a package of legislation that eventually became initiatives that the public got to vote on. He also felt foster care was another of his accomplishments. He was named legislator of the year for the Children’s Lobby. He carried the legislation that eliminated the bias against trans-racial adoption.
Goldsmith was the author of two bills, in 1994 and 1997, that attempted to legalize ferrets as pets in California. However, the Department of Fish and Game opposes any introduction of ferrets into the state, and the bills failed.
Upon being term limited from the Assembly in 1998, Goldsmith made an unsuccessful bid for California State Treasurer, losing the primary to former Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle who lost that election and went on to serve as mayor of Anaheim. Following his loss, Goldsmith became a San Diego County judge for 9½ years before stepping down to run for City Attorney.
Goldsmith ran for San Diego City attorney in 2008. In the June primary he received the most votes (32.2%) among five candidates, but not a majority. In the November runoff he defeated incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre, 59.4% to 40.4%. In 2012 he was re-elected without opposition.
In 2010 Goldsmith's office threatened the owners of a local restaurant with fines and jail for charging a fixed service charge instead of tipping; the issue was whether they were violating state disclosure laws. The city attorney later dropped the issue and did not pursue the case.
In 2013, Goldsmith was criticized by Mayor Bob Filner for prosecuting Jeff Olson for chalking anti-bank slogans on city sidewalks outside Bank of America branches, calling it "a stupid case" and a waste of city money. The prosecution was ultimately unsuccessful.
Goldsmith and Filner were in conflict almost from the day Filner took office, over several issues including medical marijuana, tourism funding, cuts to the City Attorney budget, road paving bonds, and the presence of Goldsmith's aide at a confidential city meetings. Goldsmith was a key figure in the August 2013 mediated negotiations that led to Filner's agreeing to resign.