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Attorney Angela Alioto on Tuesday accused San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown of rewarding a lawyer who sued her with a seat on the city’s Ethics Commission. Testifying at a trial that involves countersuits between Alioto and attorney Waukeen McCoy, Alioto claimed Brown wanted to scare her out of the 1999 mayoral campaign, where he won re-election. “It’s payback from Willie Brown and his group [to McCoy] for suing me in an election year,” she testified during the bench trial before Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero. P.J. Johnston, Brown’s press secretary, said in an interview that the mayor’s intention in appointing McCoy was to name a young African-American and “to bring new blood into government.” “I know Ms. Alioto is occasionally given to bouts of paranoia, but her personal legal troubles are the farthest thing from the mayor’s mind,” Johnston said. The political accusation came during testimony in a consolidated trial that involves McCoy’s breach-of-contract claim against Alioto and Alioto’s complaint that McCoy stole three of her clients in a 2000 Wonder Bread race discrimination case. Alioto and McCoy, who once shared office space, represented 21 African-American employees at the San Francisco Wonder Bread baking plant who claimed they had been racially discriminated against and denied promotions. Jurors in August 2000 awarded them $121 million, which a judge reduced to $27 million. Alioto later reportedly settled for $20 million for 18 of the plaintiffs with Interstate Brands Corp., the parent company that makes Twinkies and Wonder Bread. While that case is resolved, the courtroom battle between Alioto and McCoy is just heating up. During a recess, McCoy defended his June 12 appointment to the Ethics Commission. The mayor also had declared a Waukeen McCoy Day in San Francisco. McCoy claimed he didn’t even know the mayor before the day was named in his honor. “Of course I qualify for [the Ethics Commission] job,” he said. I’ve had precedent-setting cases. � I taught street law at a high school and worked for the Legal Aid Society in Alameda County.” McCoy initially sued Alioto for breach of contract, racial bias, fraud and defamation. Dondero threw out all but the breach-of-contract allegation. Although McCoy filed his breach-of-contract complaint before Alioto hit him with the client-stealing allegation, he permitted her to put in her case first before the court. “It was just strategy,”he said. During cross-examination, McCoy’s attorney, San Francisco solo Michael Davis, asked Alioto about a settlement offered by IBC. McCoy’s clients claim Alioto did not present the settlement offer to them in a proper way and suggested instead that they should go to trial. Alioto was vague about the offer, saying it was between $2 million and $4 million for clients who were unemployed at the time, gave promotions to the others and set up an affirmative action hiring program for the bakery. She said she also wanted “reasonable attorneys fees.” Asked by Davis what a reasonable amount might be, she replied anywhere between $5 million and $15 million. The three clients that Alioto alleges McCoy took with him when he left her law offices remained plaintiffs in the race discrimination case. Theodis Carroll, the lead plaintiff in the case who bolted from Alioto’s representation to McCoy, testified that Alioto failed to inform him of the offer and later called him “a punk.” “She said ‘I would call Mayor Brown a punk,’” Carroll testified. “I took that as a racial slur that she would call another black man a punk. “I asked her if she called her white clients punks,” he added. The jury returned an award of $150,000 for Carroll, which was reduced to $102,000. Another McCoy client, Derrick Price, was awarded $9.4 million, which was reduced to $1.2 million. Both Carroll and Price refused to accept the award and asked for a new trial. McCoy’s third client, George Lassiter, got nothing from jurors. McCoy said Tuesday during the recess that “their cases are resolved.” For how much? “I can’t say,” the lawyer said. The cases are McCoy v. Alioto, 304904, and Alioto v. McCoy, 305221.

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