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You might have seen Paul Henderson on CNN earlier this month explaining how the late Anna Nicole Smith’s doctors could possibly be charged with involuntary manslaughter if there was enough of a connection between their prescriptions and the 39-year-old’s death. Or you might have seen him on Fox a few months ago, talking about the loads of trouble movie star Lindsay Lohan landed in with her second DUI. The 40-year-old Henderson, a San Francisco prosecutor, has been giving legal commentary to TV news stations for the last year and a half now. He says his role as an African-American legal expert not only helps to promote the DA’s office, it also gives mass audiences a different face representing the prosecution side. “Your typical expert is an old white man,” said Henderson, who has been at the DA’s office for 12 years. “When you have a young black man speaking from a level of experience, that, to me, changes the perception of law enforcement.” Last month, DA Kamala Harris welcomed the media-savvy prosecutor into her 15-person executive team, giving him a new title: head of administration. He previously co-managed the misdemeanor unit. Linda Klee had held the chief of administration title for many years until her retirement last spring. Already Henderson has been assigned to implement the new Community Justice Center aimed at lower level, quality-of-life crimes; it’s expected to start full-scale operations in July, with a judge hearing 180 cases a month at 555 Polk St. Henderson will also be in charge of working with outside agencies like the police department, training lawyers and managing more than 80 law clerks and interns. Even as Henderson admits the fast-paced nature of the job often makes him feel like he’s on a treadmill, he says it’s exactly what suits him. “It’s like the perfect storm � it’s hectic and chaotic,” he said. On a recent morning, he talked with The Recorder in his office while Diana Krall’s bluesy rendition of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” played from his iPod. The 1993 graduate of Tulane University Law School grew up in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, near Candlestick Park. He says his decision to become a prosecutor surprised his mother, a public defender in the 1980s and later, an administrative law judge. But he wanted to become part of the criminal justice system and change the stereotypes of prosecutors. He interned at the DA’s office in 1992, and adds that he has held several assignments there, including Proposition 36 drug court, which he implemented in the office. “Paul is, first of all, an experienced and veteran prosecutor, so he knows the work we do as an office from the ground up,” said Harris, adding that Henderson had done much work training lawyers. “He is the right person for the position.” It also seems he has a flair for entertaining sound bites � he’s posted nearly 20 of his video clips on YouTube. Over the summer, during the media hype surrounding heiress Paris Hilton’s DUI sentence, Henderson made an on-air offer to Hilton, volunteering to pick her up and drive her to jail � and getting in a zinger about some unintentionally revealing paparazzi photos. “I’ll bring her to the jail myself,” he said. “And you know what, when she’s there, what she’ll get are some undergarments to wear as well.”

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