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LAFAYETTE LAWYER MANAGES PERATA DEFENSE FUND When Lafayette attorney Howard Janssen first heard that his old friend, state Sen. Don Perata, was the subject of an FBI corruption probe, he thought, no way. “I was surprised,” said Janssen, a well-connected former Alameda County prosecutor who supported Perata in his first run for state office in 1978. “I was disappointed that there was so much press coverage before the investigation had been completed.” Janssen, a partner in Janssen Doyle, was identified in press reports this past week as the head of Perata’s legal defense fund, which is seeking donations from other Perata friends and supporters. Although to date the Oakland Democrat faces no formal charges, news broke last fall that his business dealings were the subject of a federal grand jury investigation. Agents searched the senator’s home in December, Perata adviser Jason Kinney said. Perata, elected to the Senate in 2000, recently became its president pro tem. Kinney said the fund was a cautionary measure and expressed “complete confidence” that the senator did nothing wrong. “When elected officials find themselves where possible accusations or allegations might be made down the road, regardless of whether they’re credible or not, the cost of clearing your name can be exorbitant,” Kinney said. Kinney described the defense fund as similar to a model created by former President Clinton. Funds will come from people who do not have a legislative interest with the senator. “You want to create a bright line between the money you raise as an elected official and the money you raise to clear your name,” Kinney said. “We wanted, here, to be careful, to do everything by the book.” Perata’s already using some of the money, Kinney said. This past fall, he hired former U.S. Attorney George O’Connell of Sacramento to defend him against any possible charges. A number of the senator’s supporters have offered their assistance as well. Janssen, formerly a partner at Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May before it merged with Reed Smith, was quick to jump in. “I’ve known him for years and years,” Janssen said. “When I read what was going on in the newspaper, I gave him a call to see if there was any way I could help.” — Warren Lutz IF IT’S FRIDAY, THEN� Legal uncertainty over Prop 64 left Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw feeling a tad sheepish last week. Sabraw recently issued a tentative ruling in 11 cases that the ballot initiative restricting lawsuits under California’s unfair competition law applied to suits pending before Election Day. Defendants in nine cases filed motions to dismiss, only to return to the judge’s courtroom Thursday in a state of understandable confusion. On Feb. 1, the First District Court of Appeal ruled Prop 64 was not retroactive. Then last Wednesday, the Second District decided it was. (The Fourth District jumped into the fray Thursday, also favoring retroactivity.) With more than 50 attorneys waiting in his court to hear what he had to say, Sabraw took a few humorous jabs at the situation. “I’m hoping some court will say that whatever happened in Department 22 doesn’t exist,” he joked. But Sabraw expressed determination to move the cases forward, saying that a delay of two or three months would “paralyze our work.” Sabraw did not indicate whether he favors one appellate ruling over the other. He allowed attorneys to argue the merits of the conflicting appeal court decisions before issuing specific rulings at the end of the day. The daylong proceeding played like a seminar on tort reform as lawyers in each case dissected the opposing rulings, voter intent and what is meant by “the public.” When an attorney suggested Sabraw would rule correctly on his case, the judge said he wasn’t so sure. “I have not been right thus far,” he admitted. — Warren Lutz HEMP UBER ALLES Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, maker of a line of products popular at natural food stores, recently got a little bonus in its successful fight against the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ban on hemp in food: $21,265 in attorneys fees. Dr. Bronner’s uses hemp oil in its soaps and food bars. Although Dr. Bronner’s makes a great bubble bath, you can’t get high off the company’s products. Even so, the DEA wanted them banned because they contain trace amounts of the same psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. Dr. Bronner’s, which is based in Escondido, challenged the DEA in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and last year a unanimous three-judge panel overturned the federal rule in HIA v. DEA, 04 C.D.O.S. 1101. Dr. Bronner’s then requested attorneys fees. One of the attorneys who worked on the case, Joseph Sandler of Washington, D.C.’s Sandler, Reiff & Young, said the award signifies that the court “has basically decided that the DEA’s attempt to outlaw hemp foods never had any real legal merit,” according to a press release. San Francisco attorney Patrick Goggin also helped on the case. The $21,265 will only cover a portion of legal expenses, said Adam Eidinger, a spokesman for Vote Hemp, a nonprofit group that seeks to legalize hemp products. He estimated total expenses to be close to $100,000. Everyone already has been paid. Dr. Bronner’s plans to use the money to fund industrial hemp studies in Canada and to push legislation here that would help farmers more easily grow hemp. — Jeff Chorney SAME-SEX MARRIAGE SCRAP An attorney for the city of San Francisco started a law school event on same-sex marriage last week with due process and equal protection arguments. Little more than an hour later, Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart was looking exasperated, pointing out that “crackheads” and child molesters can marry, and calling her opponents’ arguments, “in non-legal terms, baloney.” The five-person debate hosted by a Hastings College of the Law publication Friday — a day shy of the one-year anniversary of the first gay weddings at San Francisco City Hall — began heating up when talk turned to whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is meant to encourage population growth and good parenting. A round of applause broke out when a law professor — who clearly favored same-sex marriage — said the “other side” hasn’t articulated what gay couples should do if they can’t marry. “There are 10 million people who are trying to figure out how to lead their lives,” said Tobias Wolff of UC-Davis’ King Hall School of Law. Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Jeffrey Ventrella, whose organization has been arguing to keep the laws as they are, cautioned the audience of roughly 100 not to be wooed by Wolff’s “appeal to emotion.” Both he and Pepperdine University School of Law professor Douglas Kmiec argued that laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman further compelling state interests. “We are confronting in the industrialized society a worldwide under-population crisis,” Kmiec said. Though the state can’t ask couples who want to marry if they’re fertile or intend to have children, it can base policy on common-sense biology, he added. That comment brought a challenge from Hastings professor Vikram Amar. If the marriage laws are really meant to encourage procreation, the state could do more without prodding individual couples, he said. “If a state passed a law that women over 70 years old can’t marry � would that fly?” Kmiec, stumped, opted for flattery, saying that Amar is clearly at a top law school “because he just thinks of those niche hypotheticals that make me squirm.” But Ventrella had a comeback. An age ceiling wouldn’t be a good idea, he indicated, because “a 69-year-old Romanian professor just gave birth to twins.” He was apparently referring to last month’s reports of a woman thought to be the oldest ever to give birth. (Most reports put her age at 66.) — Pam Smith

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