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Earl Sanders’ problems may not be over. A police watchdog group is calling for a new investigation — into Sanders’ “investigation” of the investigation of his office by the DA’s office. Bay Area PoliceWatch has formally asked DA Terence Hallinan to look into Sanders’ hiring of attorney Philip Ryan and his preparation of materials intended to convince Attorney General Bill Lockyer to take over the investigation initiated by Hallinan’s office. The material — part rebuttal to Hallinan’s assertion of a cover-up, part attack on Hallinan and his motives — was prepared by Ryan and Sanders in conjunction with the mayor’s office. “It’s one thing or another thing,” said Van Jones, of Bay Area PoliceWatch. “It’s either he did this on the government’s dime, which would be misappropriation of funds. . . . Or he did it on the government’s time, which is also improper. “It’s either a criminal matter or it’s severe misconduct,” added Jones. “No city official, least of all the police chief, should be freelancing to derail a grand jury.” Asked for a comment Tuesday, Ryan said: “PoliceWatch is a crock of shit.” On Jan. 17, Sanders retained Ryan — a longtime Sanders friend who used to practice law with Mayor Willie Brown — to provide “independent outside counsel” while Hallinan’s investigation was ongoing. Ryan helped Sanders prepare answers to a series of “interrogatories” about the incident and subsequent police response that Ryan says was drawn up by Gregg Lowder, head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Lowder refused to comment, referring a call to the mayor’s office. A mayoral spokesman said Sanders turned to Lowder because Lowder is an acknowledged law enforcement expert. Ryan sent the materials to Lockyer on Feb. 28, shortly after Sanders was indicted, but Lockyer has said he sees no need to get involved. By Monday, March 3, news of Ryan’s work on the matter had traveled down the hall to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who fired off a letter to Ryan telling him to make clear that he was acting only on behalf of Sanders, not the city. In the letter, Herrera says he found out about Ryan’s representation from the mayor’s office. The story of Sanders’ parallel investigation also offers a behind-the-scenes peek into just how angry the city’s top cop has become with the district attorney. Sanders’ sharply worded answers to the interrogatories dismiss Lt. Joe Dutto as a “middle manager” with no direct involvement in the investigation. The grand jury’s indictment is based on an alleged conspiracy to thwart Dutto’s investigation by transferring him to the vice squad. Sanders also wrote that if Dutto “had a good-faith belief that something was amiss with the investigation, he had an obligation to honor the chain of command rather than baring his soul to the press.” Throughout, Sanders accuses Dutto and Hallinan of improper leaks to the press. And Sanders’ “summary” of the police investigation attempts in several places to dispute or discredit Hallinan. For example, Sanders wrote, “Without a single morsel of evidence of the slightest probable cause, Hallinan apparently prevailed on Lt. Dutto to interrogate every police officer — no matter their rank or role in the case — about the propriety of the investigation of a simple, alcohol-related street brawl.” He also accused Hallinan of having “launched a campaign attacking the integrity of this investigation and the integrity of the San Francisco Police Department.” Ryan sent Lockyer a follow-up memo a few days later, after Lockyer asked why Sanders hadn’t come to him before the indictment came down. Ryan said he’d advised Sanders not to wait, but that Sanders — apparently at the behest of Lowder — decided to hold off. Ryan also told Lockyer it was Lowder who instructed Sanders to sit on the answered interrogatories.

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