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San Francisco police officers and department officials under indictment have lined up a Who’s Who list of lawyers for their defense squad. Who will ultimately be responsible for the legal bills, however, has yet to be worked out for the six department employees who may qualify for legal help from the police union, the Police Officers Association. Defense lawyers were hoping to meet with POA officials late Monday to hammer out some details on legal fees. The three off-duty police officers whose alleged late-night street brawl set off a series of events that culminated in the 10 indictments are on their own when it comes to paying legal fees, said Chris Cunnie, the POA president. The events in question, Cunnie said, happened while the officers were off duty. And Police Chief Earl Sanders doesn’t qualify for union assistance because he didn’t join, Cunnie said. The remaining six under indictment who are POA members may get help in fending off the charges — but how much assistance is unclear. Cunnie said he wouldn’t comment on the financial details. “The POA represents its members when there are charges resulting from the course and scope of employment,” Cunnie said. “The POA is representing them.” George Fisher, a Stanford Law School criminal law professor, said the high-profile nature of the case probably didn’t hurt the officers when it came to hiring the lawyer of their choice. “One could expect a DA would not bring a case that is so touchy and so high profile without something that convinces him that this is substantial,” Fisher said. “It is likely the indicted officers would want a substantial defense.” A handful of the defense lawyers say they can’t be sure what they’re up against until they have read the grand jury transcript, which may not be available for weeks. The line-up of defense lawyers is as follows. � John Burris is representing Chief Sanders. An Oakland solo practitioner, Burris is better known for suing police departments for brutality than for defending officers. Most recently, Burris celebrated a big payday for his piece of a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Oakland in the case involving a group of rogue police officers known as the “Riders.” Burris also assisted in the Rodney King civil trial. Burris has also received negative attention. In 1996, the state Supreme Court suspended Burris for 30 days and put him on probation for a year for violations of the State Bar’s ethics code. � James Lassart, a Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley partner, is representing Alex Fagan Sr. Lassart was a San Francisco prosecutor for 12 years before joining the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco in 1981. His name popped up as the possible top federal cop on several occasions. Lassart joined Ropers in 1986 and since has represented police officers accused of wrongdoing before the San Francisco Police Commission. Lassart has also represented the police union. � James Patrick Collins represents Alex Fagan Jr. The San Francisco solo is the go-to criminal defense lawyer among judges and police officers alike. Collins was a San Francisco police officer for 11 years before attending law school at night. He won an acquittal for a police officer charged with stealing from a drug dealer and struck a favorable deal for S.F. Superior Court Judge James McBride, who faced domestic violence charges. � Stuart Hanlon is representing Deputy Chief Gregory Suhr. Hanlon, a partner of Tamburello Hanlon & Waggener, is a longtime Bay Area defense lawyer known for defending for 24 years a former Black Panther Party leader. � Robert Moore represents Sgt. John Syme. A partner at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory, Moore is no stranger to the Hallinan family. Moore was on the defense when the DA’s brother, Patrick Hallinan, sued a former client who had testified against him. � Leland Davis III has been retained by Deputy Chief David Robinson. Davis left the San Francisco public defender’s office Jan. 5 to open a solo criminal defense shop. � Bill Fazio is representing Capt. Greg Corrales. Fazio, who has twice run unsuccessfully against Hallinan for the DA’s job, has been a prosecutor as well as a defense lawyer. � Arthur Wachtel is representing Lt. Edmond Cota. Wachtel was a Marin County public defender for five years before going into private practice in 1981. � Freya Horne is representing officer Matthew Tonsing. Horne was a public defender for three years before becoming a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. She began practicing law again in 1990. � Mark Nicco is representing officer David Lee. Nicco, whose father was San Francisco’s public defender from 1975 to 1978, was a deputy public defender for 10 years until 1993. He also counseled police officers in the past through the POA.

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