• Address: 1300 Clay Street, Suite 810 Oakland CA 94612
  • Phone: (415) 357-4600

The San Francisco Chronicle describes Lafayette & Kumagai as one of two “big San Francisco legal guns” to be hired by City of Oakland to protect its interests in a high profile sexual harrasment matter:

BIG GUNS: The fear of having to dish out big bucks has the city of Oakland bringing out some big San Francisco legal guns to ward off an expected sex harassment suit against Mayor Jerry Brown’s right-hand man, Jacques Barzaghi.

Oakland City Attorney John Russo confirmed yesterday that his office is finalizing an agreement to hire San Francisco trial lawyer (and former Police Commission President) John Keker to defend Barzaghi.

And Keker — who gained fame by defending such clients as Eldridge Cleaver, Roger Boas and Werner Erhard and prosecuting Iran-Contra figure Ollie North — does not come cheap.

Neither does San Francisco trial lawyer Gary Lafayette, who has been separately hired to defend the city in any possible suit.

“We take this case very seriously,” says new City Attorney Russo.

As for how much it will cost the city?

Russo wouldn’t say, but a reliable source tells us the outside lawyers’ firms would likely each be paid “several hundred dollars an hour.”

The 32-year-old woman behind the harassment claim had been on the job less than a month when she accused Brown aide Barzaghi of making an unwanted pass during a mayoral trip to Mexico in late November.

Shortly after the alleged incident, Barzaghi was suspended from his City Hall job for three weeks without pay and ordered to undergo counseling.

The alleged victim went out on stress leave and is now seeking $500,000 in damages.

City officials — angered over attempts by the woman’s attorney to lay out her allegations in the press — are now more determined than ever to fight the case in court.

And it’s not just the merits of her claim that are being questioned. There’s some real politics at play here, too.
The last thing the City Council wants is to be tarred for settling a sex harassment claim involving the mayor’s closest adviser.

Besides — now they’re talking big money.

Excerpted from Matier, Phillip and Andrew Ross. “Vandals Having a Heyday Destroying Bus Shelters.” The San Francisco Chronicle. 7 March 2001: n. pag. Web. 5 April 2009.