(12-16) 04:00 PST San Francisco — He prosecuted Caspar Weinberger in the Iran-Contra scandal, accused a U.S. Supreme Court justice of racist conduct and has defended alleged terrorists and political agitators from around the world.
So, taking on the underdog case of John Walker, the “American Taliban” from Marin County, should at least be familiar territory for San Francisco attorney James Brosnahan.
By all accounts, he relishes a long-odds fight.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he took that case,” said one of his most ardent legal opponents, Oakland Raiders lawyer Ken Hausman. “He is definitely strong and does what he wants to do.”
Hausman is set to go to trial next spring on behalf of the Raiders against Brosnahan, who is defending Oakland and Alameda County against charges that they defrauded the team in its move from Los Angeles. He’s not anticipating an easy win — no matter what.
“I’d say he’s very aggressive, very quick-tempered and a very determined adversary,” Hausman said. “You never count him out.”
That’s just the sort of spirit that drove Walker’s parents to hire Brosnahan, 67, after learning that their 20-year-old son had been shot and captured in a prison revolt in northern Afghanistan.
After being flushed out of a dungeon early this month alongside Taliban fighters, Walker was filmed calling himself a holy warrior and expressing support for the Sept. 11 attacks on America.
As soon as he saw the TV clips Dec. 2, Walker’s father said, he knew he needed all the help he could get.
“We went right out and got the best lawyer we could find, and he’s working as hard as anyone can on this,” Frank Lindh of San Rafael said, just before he stopped talking to the press last week and began deferring all comment to Brosnahan.
Aside from Brosnahan’s reputation for tackling sticky, big cases, one other thing brought the lawyer quickly to mind, Walker’s father said. The two were legal adversaries once — Lindh is a corporate attorney for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — and Lindh said he admired Brosnahan’s “mettle.”
One of the nation’s most respected trial lawyers for decades, Brosnahan is a senior partner in the San Francisco office of Morrison & Foerster, one of the biggest law firms in the state.
The resulting cachet led to his appointment in 1992 to prosecute former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in the Iran-Contra scandal. When then- President George Bush pardoned Weinberger in the waning days of his presidency,
Brosnahan furiously said the president would “pay a terrible price” with “the American people” for protecting his powerful friend.
Those words might seem unfortunate, considering that Bush’s son is now president and Brosnahan’s legal efforts on behalf of Walker must go through the current President Bush’s administration. No charges have been filed against the young man from San Anselmo and Fairfax, but those bandied about range from simple conspiracy to treason.
However, whatever happened in the past should be no handicap, say those long familiar with the work of Brosnahan, a tall man with a booming voice who does considerable pro bono work for poor and minority clients in addition to his highly paid jobs.
His dealings with the federal government extend far beyond the Weinberger case, they noted, and in the legal profession, experience and know-how trump any past bad blood.
“Brosnahan will still have a network of connections within Washington and within this administration, and even though he might not be viewed with a lot of love and bliss by the Bushes for trying to take one of their friends down, he knows what to plug into,” said Peter Keane, dean of the Golden Gate University Law School.
“He’s not going to have to run around to figure out who the players are,” Keane said. “He knows them, and they know him, too.”
Please see complete story @: