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Veteran criminal defense attorney George Walker may be only a few steps away from representing one of the two lawyers in the California dog mauling case. But they are big steps. Walker made a special appearance on behalf of San Francisco attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel on Thursday and asked for a continuance of their arraignment on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the death of Diane Whipple by two Presa Canario dogs in their care. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Philip Moscone set April 13 for instruction and arraignment, a possible plea, and also to hear a motion to reduce bail. When the grand jury indicted them Tuesday, Knoller’s bail was set at $2 million and Noel’s at $1 million. Walker said he would meet with San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan today at 2 p.m. to negotiate a possible bail reduction, but declined to say what he thought was a fair amount. He said the two were neither flight risks nor a danger to society. Walker said after the court hearing that he had a monetary fund from which to draw to bail Noel and Knoller out of jail. He also said that he would file a change of venue motion, hoping to move the case out of San Francisco’s emotionally charged atmosphere. “I’ve been in this city a long time,” Walker said. “I can’t remember a case that has drawn so much criticism and animosity as it relates to these two individuals.” But before he steps into the case “for the long haul,” Walker said, he must first get a fee agreement signed. Several defense attorneys at the Hall of Justice said they wouldn’t take the case for less than $100,000, plus expenses. Walker said he was in contact with Knoller’s mother in New York, who would probably help arrange for his fee. Walker added that he could probably choose his own co-counsel in the case and will probably represent Knoller. But he declined to speculate whom he might choose for a co-counsel, saying, “I just haven’t thought about it yet.” However, he did say that Wallace Olney, the law partner of Houston’s famous criminal defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, would probably assist with the defense. Noel has said that he and Olney were friends. “I don’t think he [Olney] wants to try this case,” Walker said, but would lend a hand in other ways. He also said there were other “conditions” that would have to be met before he would take the case. One of those, he said, would be the ability to control his client. Both Knoller and Noel have been highly visible and voluble about the dog-mauling incident on Jan. 26 that killed Whipple. “I can guarantee you will not hear from them for a long period of time, until they take the stand,” he said. Walker said the couple’s actions — particularly their grand jury testimony — could work to their disadvantage. “I would not have recommended that [they testify] and I don’t know any defense attorney who would,” he added. He met for more than four hours with Noel and Knoller in jail following their court appearance, where each stood in orange jumpsuits and sweatshirts issued to inmates. During that conversation, Walker reminded the two of the folly of their grand jury testimony. “It’s your state of mind that [prosecutors] were after,” Walker said he told them. “Without you going before the grand jury, they never would have come back with a murder second.” Another condition the respected trial attorney imposed is that he wants no second-guessing of his strategy in handling the case. That may be difficult, considering his client will also be an attorney. Walker got to know Noel about nine years ago, when Noel had a law office in the same Battery Street building as Walker’s. “He’s always been right by me,” he said. “I look at this [case] as a revolutionary lawyer from the ’60s, when the government was the enemy,” said Walker, who began practicing in 1969.

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