Until recently, Sacramento’s new downtown arena for its Kings basketball team was a mythical goal that seemed impossible to attain. But after about six weeks of talks, city leaders and the Kings’ owners � Maloof Sports & Entertainment � managed last week to finalize a $1.2 billion agreement in time to get a measure on the November ballot for public approval. In doing so, they wrapped up six years of on-again, off-again negotiations.

Involved in brokering the deal were Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson and Vice Mayor Rob Fong. Representing the Maloof family was Hanson, Bridgett, Marcu, Vlahos & Rudy attorney Darrell Steinberg. He said his clients have pledged about $142 million in payments to finance the project, including $20 million up front.

The biggest snag was getting the parties to agree who would be responsible for cost overruns and who would control the design and construction process, Steinberg said.

“It was probably the most difficult and challenging negotiation that I’ve been involved in,” he said. The city and county and the Maloofs will collaborate, with the city and county responsible for cost overruns.

Despite the challenge, Steinberg, a former state assemblyman, said he never doubted that public and private interests would meet halfway. Under pressure to reach agreement before the elections, the parties were forced to make a decision, he said. “There was too much to gain in making an agreement, and tight deadlines actually can work to the advantage to making an agreement,” he said. “The next opportunity would have been June 2008 and the cost of construction would have risen again and made the project even more difficult.”

Steinberg is preparing to return to public life this fall, when he runs for a seat in the state Senate. He expects to win, because “I won the primary and it’s a largely Democratic Senate.”

What will happen with his practice? “I don’t know,” he said with a laugh. “I hope to maintain some form of practice � I’m exploring it to see what’s possible.”

� Petra Pasternak


Two years ago, Reed Smith associate Jayne Fleming won a Ninth Circuit appeal on behalf of a woman who had been raped by three soldiers at her home in Guatemala and was seeking asylum.

Now Fleming’s work on behalf of refugees could become the subject of a Hollywood film.

The Oakland-based lawyer says that after more than a year of talking with screenwriter James Dalessandro and producer Steve Chicorel, she signed an agreement allowing them to pitch a film about her work to financial backers.

“I gave it some thought,” Fleming said. “I wanted to know why they wanted to do this and did my client have a problem with this.”

As it turns out, Fleming’s client was eager to tell her story and potentially help others.

The film will probably focus on Fleming’s work in the case, Garcia-Martinez v. Ashcroft, which helped open the door for other asylum seekers. The case marked the first time the circuit agreed rape can be considered a political weapon.

However, it is possible that Fleming’s work with other refugees, especially women, would also be featured.

Fleming says she became interested in women’s issues in part because her father died when she was 11, leaving her mother alone to raise five children.

Today, Fleming is the pro bono director for Reed Smith’s Oakland office. She spends about half of her time representing refugees in asylum cases.

“I had pretty serious reservations for the first year” about the movie, she says. But, “One way to really help women is to really raise the profile of these issues.”

Marie-Anne Hogarth