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LEGAL TEAM FIGHTS BACK FOR VICTIMS OF TORTURE In October 1973 a military unit known as the “Caravan of Death” executed 13 people in the Chilean town of Copiapo. The victims had been rounded up following the overthrow of President Salvador Allende, and relatives of one of the victims are now seeking justice in U.S. courts. Suit was filed three years ago against a reputed member of the death squad, former Chilean General Armando Fernandez Larios, who is living in the United States. The case, set to go to trial in May 2003, is one of several suits initiated by the Center for Justice and Accountability, a San Francisco human rights group that helps survivors of torture sue their abusers. The group won a major victory last month when a Florida jury found three Salvadoran generals liable for torture and ordered them to pay $54.6 million in damages. Going after perpetrators in the United States is an important field of law that “has taken off since the arrest of [Chilean General Augusto] Pinochet in 1998,” said Sandra Coliver, director of the center. In fact, the Pinochet case inspired Gerald Gray to found the center in 1998. He had already set up an organization to provide counseling and social services to survivors of torture, and saw a need to give them legal options as well. In addition to the El Salvador and Chile cases, the center last month filed a similar suit against a high-ranking Honduran military officer living in Florida. And it plans to file suit against commanders in Africa for crimes committed against humanity in the 1980s. The center, which consists of three attorneys and two support staff, is backed with pro bono assistance from big guns in the legal community. Morrison & Foerster attorneys litigated the Salvadoran case, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is representing the Chilean plaintiffs, and a partner in Covington & Burling’s San Francisco office has signed on to represent the African plaintiffs. Attorneys have sued under two federal statutes — the 213-year-old Alien Tort Claims Act and the 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act. Both laws allow victims of torture or their families to sue for crimes committed outside the United States. Wilson associate Nicole Healy, one of the attorneys in the Chilean case, said the legal team won an important ruling that helped set case law in the field. Claiming that the statute of limitations had expired, General Larios had asked the court to dismiss the suit. But the Wilson team successfully argued that the statute of limitations did not go into effect until a victim’s body was discovered. The skeleton of victim Winston Cabello was found in 1990 during an exhumation authorized by the Chilean government. “It was the first time the family knew what happened,” Healy said. Coliver, who has spent her career as a human rights lawyer, said she was inspired by her mother who fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and served as an interpreter at the Nuremberg trials. “Her stories about the Nuremberg trials had a big impact on me as I was growing up,” Coliver said. “Those stories nurtured a sense of outrage at injustice and the conviction that the law could provide a measure of relief.” — Brenda Sandburg PICK A POSSE These days, Bay Area politicians may feel like they’re in a scene from “West Side Story” — either you’re down with one Contra Costa County DA candidate or you’re backing the other. Last week, Chief Deputy DA Robert Kochly announced he had scored an endorsement from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez — a Contra Costa native and influential powerbroker. He also announced that Democratic Contra Costa County Supervisors Mark DeSaulnier, Donna Gerber and John Gioia support him as well. A Kochly campaign press release crowed that the Miller news was a “stunning blow” to the other candidate, San Francisco prosecutor Michael Menesini, who has enjoyed strong support from regional Democrats. On the other hand, Kochly, a Republican, has been supported by Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf and retiring DA Gary Yancey. Officially, the race is nonpartisan. But on the other side of the fray, Menesini was gloating about his new big endorsement — from Sen. Dianne Feinstein. A spokesman from Feinstein’s Washington, D.C., office confirmed the endorsement on Thursday. Menesini has also been backed by Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover, as well as state Sen. Tom Torlakson and Assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla, all Democrats. According to the Contra Costa elections office, Menesini “declined to state” his party affiliation on election paperwork. The election is Nov. 5. — Jahna Berry LIFE ON THE A LIST So how does Cooley Godward partner Richard Climan manage to land on nearly every who’s who lawyer list published on both sides of the big pond? The guy gets around on a global scale. Until last week, he was vice chairman of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Negotiated Acquisitions. Now, he’s taken it over. The first chairman of the 750-member committee to be based on the West Coast, Climan said he’s eager to give up sleep and rack up more frequent-flier miles if it means taking an even bigger role with the global platform of mergers and acquisitions lawyers. The committee claims members from the U.S. and 10 other countries and its leaders are elected. “The time and travel demands of this position are punishing,” Climan wrote in an e-mail from an ABA conference he attended last week. “But I feel I’m up to the challenge.” While Climan still has to work his day job of managing Cooley’s M&A group, he’s looking at a few perks: While he has to visit Chicago for a conference, his speaking tour also features a hop to Paris. And that’s just this year; it’s a three-year term. — Renee Deger MAKES SENSE TO ME What happens when you combine a handful of employment lawyers, human resource professionals and former judges? You get a consulting company, of course. Founded by retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dana Senit Henry, Workplace Associates is designed to assist companies with all their employment law and HR issues. From staff training to independent fact-finding, many corporations need a neutral outsider — not necessarily their attorneys or general counsel, says Henry. “Some of this is sort of preventative,” she explained. “I see a lot of times where companies need a review of their internal processes and procedures,” for matters like non-discrimination policies, workplace security and employee termination. And in an era when HR staff is increasingly being eliminated to save costs, Henry sees a lot of opportunity for a consulting firm like Workplace Associates. Joining Henry is an impressive team of contractors, including retired California Supreme Court Justice Armand Arabian, former Utah Solicitor General Carol Clawson and various employment attorneys that have worked both in-house and as outside counsel. “Basically, we’re sort of a one-stop HR agency,” said Henry. — Alexei Oreskovic

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