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Davis Wright (109)


If the journalists working for the Chauncey Bailey Project have their way, they will not only continue the work of murdered Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey, but also bring his killer to justice. With help from Davis Wright Tremaine’s San Francisco office, for the past two years the Project journalists have been probing the The Am Law Pro Bono 100circumstances surrounding Bailey’s death. At the time of his shooting in August 2007, Bailey was investigating violence and financial fraud at the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, a symbol of African American empowerment in the San Francisco Bay Area for decades, founded by Yusuf Bey IV. Within weeks of Bailey’s death, three dozen local journalists and other volunteers established the all-volunteer Project. For legal counsel, they turned to Duffy Carolan, a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine’s San Francisco office who serves as counsel to some of the news organizations involved in the project.

Carolan has conducted prepublication review of some 200 of the Project’s articles, and also helped journalists obtain crucial information by moving to have search warrants, probation reports, and other documents unsealed. “Some really explosive investigative journalism took place,” she says.

Although Oakland police arrested a bakery handyman who confessed to shooting Bailey, the Project’s journalists uncovered police reports, documents, and audio and videotapes suggesting that Bey, then the bakery’s owner, had ordered the handyman to murder Bailey. Carolan also helped Project journalists obtain access to search warrants in the investigations of two similar murders, which prosecutors say were also ordered by Bey. The lead detective on the case has been fired for allegedly protecting Bey during the initial investigation. He has denied protecting him and defended his friendship with Bey. Addittionally, Bey has said that his “rivals” set him up and that he had no role in the murders.

“The police thought they had their man,” Carolan says. “The reporting that was done on the case revealed a fairly close relationship between the detective and [Bey].” The offices of the California attorney general and the police department have both investigated the detective’s conduct, finding that he was improperly placed on the case.

The handyman has pled guilty to two counts of manslaughter as part of a plea deal in which he will testify against Bey and another individual, who have been indicted but not yet arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court. In June Carolan successfully argued to have transcripts of the grand jury proceedings unsealed by July 16.

—Vivian Yee | July 1, 2009

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