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ATTORNEY ON CRUSADE TO PROVE COOPER’S INNOCENCE Lanny Davis is trying to save Kevin Cooper. Drawing on the media skills he honed as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, Davis launched a campaign to halt Cooper’s execution, which is scheduled to take place at midnight Monday night. Cooper was convicted of murdering four people in 1983. Davis, a partner in Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Washington, D.C., office, learned about Cooper’s case from fellow partner David Alexander, who is representing Cooper pro bono. “I came at least to the absolute conclusion that evidence was withheld from the jury that they were entitled to hear,” Davis said at a Jan. 30 luncheon sponsored by the Bar Association of San Francisco. He noted that blond hair was found grasped in the hand of one of the victims, which could not be Cooper’s since he is African-American. Davis called Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a former boxer whose wrongful murder conviction was depicted in a movie starring Denzel Washington, and asked him to speak out on Cooper’s behalf. Carter attended a press conference calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant Cooper clemency and met with the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle. When Carter walked into the room, “everyone was convinced Kevin Cooper should be executed,” Davis said. But the Chronicle “switched its opinion,” he said. In a Jan. 30 editorial the paper called for Schwarzenegger to delay the execution and investigate evidence in the case that may implicate others or even exonerate Cooper. Schwarzenegger denied clemency the day the editorial was published. While the Cooper case has gotten widespread coverage, Davis has been working behind the scenes for other Orrick clients as well. He has put together a novel legal practice helping companies communicate with the media. Since joining Orrick in October, Davis said he and the four other lawyers in his group have handled a dozen or more new client matters. Davis said he learned during his White House stint that reporters would get the bad facts anyway, so it’s better to be up front from the start. “Rather than withholding information,” he said, it’s more helpful “to be transparent, to say more rather than less.” – Brenda Sandburg NOTHING TO SEE HERE Oakland attorney Alastair McCloskey has some explaining to do, police say. On Dec. 30, McCloskey saw two former clients beat up and gun down 21-year-old Bruno Bastos shortly after those clients paid McCloskey at a downtown Oakland ATM, said Lt. Jim Emory of the Oakland Police Department. McCloskey didn’t report what he saw until police learned he was a witness, Emory said. “There wasn’t any question he was there,” Emory said. “He should have come forward.” Earlier that day, McCloskey represented Calvin Patterson at a marijuana possession prelim at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse. After it was postponed, Patterson and his cousin, Levester Pierson �� another McCloskey client �� met the solo at an ATM machine on Lakeside Drive. Pierson pulled up in a van, withdrew money from the bank and gave it to McCloskey, the lawyer said. Patterson was in the van but did not get out. McCloskey was counting the money and looking in his planner when Pierson got in his van and drove off, McCloskey said. The van had gone about 200 feet when Pierson got out and began an argument with Bastos, a pedestrian who walked in front of the van, police say. The pair got into a fistfight, and Bastos swung at Pierson with a flashlight. Patterson shot Bastos from the passenger seat of the van, Pierson got back in, and the two men drove off, police say. McCloskey said he didn’t see much because the fight happened a couple hundred feet away. The fight took place in front of the van, which obstructed his view of the fight, the lawyer added. When McCloskey drove off, Bastos was sitting on the curb and appeared unhurt. The attorney says he may have heard gunfire, but at the time he thought it was street noise. Later he found out that Bastos had died, said McCloskey, who has practiced criminal and civil law for 27 years. “I was shocked. I feel sorry for his family and his loved ones,” McCloskey said. The lawyer said he didn’t come forward because he didn’t believe that his observations would’ve helped. It was a busy area and there were other witnesses, he said. If he had seen more, he would have reported it, McCloskey said. “As an officer of the court, if I see a crime I should report it,” he said. “But I did not know [Bastos] had expired or was injured at all.” — Jahna Berry SOME SILVER LINING Oakland solo Patrick Sullivan might not have achieved what he felt was justice for a client last month in an unusual inheritance case, but he may have gotten a measure of revenge for himself last Thursday. In an offshoot of the inheritance case, Sullivan, representing the special administrator of the estate of Arthur Ford, won an appeal court’s OK to sell the family’s dilapidated San Francisco house — over the objections of the niece and nephew named the official heirs. Sullivan had opposed the twosome’s claim to the estate on behalf of Terrold Bean, a foster child who had lived with the Ford family for 45 years. The California Supreme Court heavy-heartedly ruled against Bean on Jan. 15, saying that although he had been treated as the Fords’ son, he could not be their heir because the family had never expressed the intent to adopt him. Instead, the $600,000 estate of Ford was awarded to nephew John Ford III and niece Veronica Newbeck, even though neither had seen Ford for 15 years and didn’t attend his 2000 funeral. Sullivan said the high court’s ruling took “the equity out of equitable adoption” and “annihilated” Bean’s identity. Thursday’s unpublished ruling by the First District Court of Appeal authorizes Sullivan’s other client, special administrator Joan Malpassi, to sell the Ford’s Crocker Amazon district house, appraised at $380,000. Newbeck had proposed living in the house, paying $840 a month in rent while her adult sons made repairs, but the court said no. “In light of the dilapidated condition of the house, the prohibitive costs of repair and the health and safety hazards to any potential client,” Justice Paul Haerle wrote, “we conclude that the probate court had before it substantial evidence to indicate that a sale of the house was in the best interest of the estate.” Justices J. Anthony Kline and Timothy Reardon concurred. That should be silver lining for Sullivan. The case is Estate of Ford, A102316. The Supreme Court’s Jan. 15 inheritance ruling is Estate of Ford, 04 C.D.O.S. 363. — Mike McKee

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