All descriptions are excerpts from Incriminating Evidence.
Michael J. Daley. 47; criminal defense attorney; divorced; San Francisco native; son of a San Francisco cop; former public defender and priest; formerly married to Rosita Fernandez; one eight-year-old daughter (Grace).
Being a partner in a small criminal defense firm isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Oh, it's nice to see your name at the top of the letterhead and there is a certain amount of ego gratification that goes along with having your own firm. Then again, you have to co-sign the line of credit and guarantee the lease. You also tend to get a lot of calls from collection agencies when cash flow is slow. In this business, founder's privilege extends only so far.
Unlike our well-heeled brethren in the high-rises that surround us, the attorneys in my firm, Fernandez and Daley, occupy cramped quarters around the corner from the Transbay bus terminal and next door to the Lucky Corner Number 2 Chinese restaurant. Our office is located on the second floor of a 1920s walk-up building at 553 Mission Street, on the only block of San Francisco's South of Market area that has not yet been gentrified by the sprawl of downtown. Although we haven't started remodeling yet, we recently took over the space from a now-defunct martial arts studio and moved upstairs from the basement. Our files sit in the old men's locker room. Our firm has grown by a whopping fifty percent in the last two years. We're up to three lawyers.
"Rosie, I'm back," I sing out to my law partner and ex-wife as I stand in the doorway to her musty, sparsely-furnished office at eight-thirty in the morning on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Somewhere behind four mountains of paper and three smiling pictures of our eight-year-old daughter, Grace, Rosita Fernandez is already working on her second Diet Coke and cradling the phone against her right ear. She gestures at me to come in and mouths the words, "How was your trip?"
I just got back from Cabo, where I was searching for the perfect vacation and, if the stars lined up right, the perfect woman. Well, my tan is good. When you're forty-seven and divorced, your expectations tend to be pretty realistic.
Prentice Marshall Gates III ("Skipper"). 60; San Francisco District Attorney; son of founding partner of Simpson & Gates law firm; candidate for California Attorney General; former partner of Michael Daley.
Prentice Marshall Gates III, known as "Skipper," is the San Francisco district attorney. We used to be partners at Simpson and Gates. His father was Gates. He's now running for California attorney general. His smiling mug appears on billboards all over town under the caption, "Mr. Law and Order." Two years ago, he won the DA's race by spending three million dollars of his inheritance. I understand he's prepared to ante up five million this time around.
Skipper is, well, a complicated guy. To my former partners at Simpson and Gates, he was a self-righteous, condescending ass. To defense attorneys like me, he's an opportunistic egomaniac who spends most of his time padding his conviction statistics and preening to the media. To the citizens of the City and County of San Francisco, however, he's a charismatic local hero who vigorously prosecutes drug dealers and pimps. He takes full credit for the fact that violent crime in San Francisco has dropped by a third during his tenure. Even though he's a law-and-order Republican and a card-carrying member of the NRA, he has led the charge for greater regulation of handguns and sits on the board of directors of the Legal Community Against Violence, a local gun-control advocacy group. He's an astute politician. It's a foregone conclusion that he'll win the AG's race. The only question is whether he'll be the next governor of California.
Johnny Garcia. 19; male prostitute; drug addict; native of Mission District.
"Johnny Garcia came to us two years ago," he says. "He had no home. No family. So we gave Johnny a home. We became his family . . .It isn't easy being young and poor and homeless." He pauses. "And gay. Johnny Garcia lived his entire life alone and scared. We let this one get away from us, my friends. We let Johnny Garcia slip through the cracks. We let him down. And when we did, we let ourselves down. We mustn't let it happen again."
Rosita Fernandez ("Rosie"). 43; co-defense counsel; Mike's ex-wife; former San Francisco public defender.
Rosie runs her hand through her thick, dark hair. She's only forty-three, but the gray flecks annoy her. She holds a finger to her full lips and motions me to sit down. She gives me a conspiratorial wink and whispers the name, "Skipper," as she points to the phone. "No, no," she says to him. "He'll be back this morning. I expect him any minute. I'll have him call you as soon as he gets in."
Rosie and I used to work together at the San Francisco public defender's office. Then we made a serious tactical error and decided to get married. We are very good at being lawyers, but we were very bad at being married. We split up almost seven years ago, shortly after Grace's first birthday. Around the same time, I went to work for the tony Simpson and Gates law firm and Rosie went out on her own. Our professional lives were reunited about two years ago when I was fired by the Simpson firm because I didn't bring in enough high-paying clients. I started subleasing space from Rosie. On my last night at Simpson and Gates, two attorneys were gunned down in the office. I ended up representing the lawyer who was charged with the murders. That's when Rosie decided I was worthy of being her law partner.
Peter Daley ("Pete"). 40; private investigator; former San Francisco cop; Mike's brother; specializes in finding unfaithful husbands.
My younger brother used to be a cop. He got into trouble a few years ago when he and some of his cohorts got a little heavy-handed when they broke up a gang fight. It cost him his badge. He's still bitter about it. Now he's a PI. I use him as the lead investigator on many of my cases. He's going through a tough time. He and his wife split up about a year ago. Their divorce was just finalized. He's bitter about that, too. I feel for him. I've survived an acrimonious divorce. It doesn't help that I introduced him to his ex-wife.
Carolyn O'Malley. 46; criminal defense attorney; of counsel to Fernandez and Daley; former prosecutor; former girlfriend of Mike Daley.
Carolyn O'Malley is the third attorney in our firm. She's "of counsel," which means she isn't a partner, but she shares office space with us and we pay her an hourly rate. She was a prosecutor in San Francisco for almost twenty years. She started out in misdemeanor court and worked her way up to the head of the sex crimes unit. She joined us about six months ago after she was unceremoniously purged from the DA's office in one of Skipper's moments of uninspired judgment. In a characteristic fit of pique, she switched sides. Most of her vitriol has been directed at one person: Skipper.
I've known her since we were kids. As with most aspects of my life, we have some baggage. We dated for a couple of years when we were in college. We almost got married. Almost is the operative word. We split up when Carolyn decided to go to law school in L.A. More precisely, Carolyn broke up with me. Although I concluded long ago that our relationship was little more than a youthful infatuation, she was, in fact, the first woman who ever broke my heart. Rosie expressed some concerns that I still had feelings for her when Carolyn came to work for us. I reassured her that I had no intention of trying to reheat that souffle. Carolyn has been divorced twice and is the single mother of a rebellious teenage son. Still I do wonder sometimes how things would have worked out if we had stayed together.
Edward Molinari ("Fast Eddie"). 58; co-counsel; personal injury and criminal defense attorney.
"Fast Eddie" Molinari is a local institution. He's lived in North Beach his entire life. His ancestors were among the early merchants in San Francisco and his family is well-connected. He's in his late fifties and started his career as a small-time personal injury attorney. Then he made a name for himself when he was one of the first lawyers to file class-action lawsuits on behalf of individuals who were exposed to asbestos. It's lucrative work. Some people think such cases are just a form of organized extortion. Guys like Fast Eddie milk the system until the insurance companies agree to settle. Then the lawyers collect big fees and the victims get what's left. Fast Eddie pulls down seven figures a year.
When he isn't shaking down the insurance companies, he handles criminal defense matters from time to time. He gained some notoriety twenty years ago when he defended a member of a Chinatown gang who was accused of participating in a shoot-out in a restaurant on Grant Avenue. The other gang members got jail time. Fast Eddie's client walked. To this day, some people think Fast Eddie was able to put in the fix with the judge. His client ended up at San Quentin on other charges.
He's a self-centered, egotistical asshole. We worked on a case together about fifteen years ago, when I was a PD. He handled a death penalty appeal for a case that I had tried and lost. The guy was guilty as hell. He had kidnaped and raped two high school girls and then stabbed them to death with an ice pick. He rejected my recommendation that he accept a plea bargain. Fast Eddie was brought in at the last minute. He lost the appeal. It was the only time I've ever had to watch a client die. Fast Eddie went on TV and blamed me. I learned an important lesson from that case: I will never give another attorney the authority to make strategy decisions in a death penalty case.
Molinari got the moniker "Fast Eddie" because he once pulled a gun on a former client who came to his office with a baseball bat and threatened to kill him. He's a short, wiry man who can't sit still. His most distinctive features are the wild eyebrows that sit above his beady eyes. In his spare time, he's an amateur boxer. The combative element of his personality seems to extend to all aspects of his life. He may not be likeable, but if you're looking for a lawyer with unlimited capacity for war, he's your guy.
William McNulty ("McNasty"). 50; assistant district attorney.
At nine o'clock the same morning, Deputy District Attorney William McNulty is sitting behind the mahogany desk in Skipper's ceremonial office, which was remodeled at his expense when he became DA. The sculptured carpeting, oak paneling and heavy furniture lend an air of authority to the formerly austere chamber. The only hint of tackiness is the picture of Skipper shaking hands with the governor that hangs behind his desk, just between the Stars and Stripes and the California state flag.
Bill McNulty is a grouch. His perpetual frown contrasts
with the smiling, silver-haired Skipper in the picture behind him. Skipper
wears the accouterments of power far more elegantly than Bill does. McNulty
is a career prosecutor whose dour manner and combative nature have earned
him the not unwarranted nickname "McNasty." He's fifty now, and two years
ago he thought his number had come up for the top spot at the DA's office.
Then he got hit by a freight train. Skipper outspent him by ten-to-one
and clobbered him in the election. It's too bad. McNulty is a solid guy
who plays by the rules and puts away the bad guys. It isn't his fault
he was born without a personality. You don't get to choose your gene pool.
Hillary Payne. 42; assistant district attorney.
"I'm sure you've met Hillary Payne," McNulty says. "She's the ADA assigned to this case."
Payne glares at me through hostile green eyes, but doesn't say anything.
"Nice to see you again," I lie. I've been on the other side of two contentious crack cases with her. Some people think she hates men on general principles. I disagree. I think she hates everybody.
Her lips form a tight line across her pale face. If she smiled once in awhile, she would be pretty. "Likewise," she snaps through clenched jaws. Like her mentor, McNasty, she is a person of few words, most of which are delivered in a strident tone intended to put you on the defensive. When she gets in front of a jury, however, she's all sugar and honey.
When I ask Skipper about Payne, he says, "It's her first big case. She's inexperienced, but she's smart. She's fearless. She relates well to the jury, especially the male jurors. She's been with our office for about a year and a half. Before that, she worked for a big firm. Then she left, or got fired. She had trouble finding a job. She can be opinionated. She was out of work for about six months. Then she was working at Macy's for a while. Small leather goods, I think. That's when her uncle called me and asked if I could help her out."
"Who is her uncle?"
How very San Francisco. Rosie calls it "affirmative action for the upper class." "So you decided to help your buddy out?"
Roosevelt Johnson. 66; senior homicide
My next stop is the homicide department for a fishing expedition. I greet Roosevelt Johnson, who is squeezed into a heavy wooden chair at his desk in the crowded room he shares with the SFPD's homicide inspectors. His brown eyes are set back deeply in his ebony face. He's a pro.
"Seems like our friend the DA has found himself in a little trouble," I say.
He takes off his wire-rimmed glasses and sets them down next to his coffee cup. "You might say that," he replies. I've known Roosevelt since I was a kid. He's in his mid-sixties now. He was my father's first partner. He moved up the ranks and made homicide inspector. Dad stayed on the beat. "How's your mama?" he asks.
You have to let Roosevelt make the first move. The social part of our conversation will continue until he's ready to talk business.
Elaine McBride. 35; senior homicide inspector; SFPD.
Inspector Elaine McBride made the arrest. She's only the second woman to make homicide inspector on the SFPD. She's tough. Her stellar reputation is well-deserved.
Officer Tom Murphy. 43; SFPD patrolman; first officer at the Fairmont.
Tom Murphy was the first officer at the scene. Not the
sharpest tool in the shed, but a hard-working street cop. He's mid-forties,
but still looks as though he just stepped off the boat from Dublin. His
uniform is pressed. He's likeable--a good opening act.
Officer Rich Sullivan. 47; SFPD patrolman; first officer at Natalie Gates's house.
A familiar round face greets me by name when I get out of my car. "I thought you criminal lawyers never left the Hall," says officer Rich Sullivan, a big kid from the old neighborhood. He knows that defense attorneys don't like being called "criminal lawyers." I let it go. Rich is a good guy. We went to high school together. He married his sweetie and had four kids. They still live in the Sunset.
"They're expecting me, Rich," I say.
He turns serious. Except for some lines around his eyes, he looks the same as he did when he played offensive tackle at St. Ignatius thirty years ago. I used to run behind him. I was a halfback. He was also a pretty fair baseball player. He had a tryout with the Giants, but blew out his throwing arm. He's been a beat cop ever since.
Sandra Wilson. 40; Criminalist, SFPD.
I'm in the second-floor office of Sandra Wilson, a meticulous African-American woman who is recognized as the SFPD's best field evidence technician. She turns her brown eyes toward me and forces a smile. She's six months pregnant with her second child. A picture of her five year-old son grins at me from the top of her computer. It must be hard on a pregnant woman with a small child to be working on a Saturday. She's a trooper. She takes a drink of water. "My doctor won't let me drink coffee," she complains. "The best I can do is pretend."
Sergeant Ron Morales. 42; sergeant at Mission Station; Pete Daley's former partner.
Sergeant Ron Morales of Mission Station used to be Pete's partner. He and Pete help each other out from time to time. His face looks younger than forty-two, but his hair is almost completely white. The day-to-day life of a cop tends to age you.
Kathleen Jacobsen. 63; expert on evidentiary
Kathleen Jacobsen is an evidence technician with the SFPD. She's a calm, gray-haired woman in hers early sixties. She's a national authority on evidentiary matters.
Douglas Kaplan. 50; chemical expert.
A lifelong "white coat," Doug Kaplan is a fifty-year-old civilian scientist who does chemical analyses in the bowels of the Hall. Black-framed bifocals surround his droopy eyes. He isn't a charismatic guy, but he's very good at what he does.
Dr. Roderick Beckert. 66; Chief Medical Examiner of the City and County of San Francisco.
I'm in the basement of the Hall, in the antiseptic office of Dr. Roderick Beckert, the Chief Medical Examiner of the City and County of San Francisco. He's in his early sixties and is a leading expert on pathology and forensics. He eyes me through aviator-style bifocals and forces a polite smile. "Good afternoon, Mr. Daley," he says through a trim beard that has grown more gray than brown in the last few years.
He wears a white lab coat and a paisley tie. A thin gold pen sits in his breast pocket. Books on forensics and pathology are arranged in alphabetical order on his matching bookshelves. There isn't a speck of dust or a piece of paper on his desk. A model of a skeleton grins at me from the corner of the cold room. In what passes for whimsy in this part of the Hall, the skeleton is wearing a black Giants' baseball cap.
His grip is firm, his manner businesslike. He pushes his
glasses to the top of his bald head. He isn't the kind of doctor you'd
call if you're sick. He is, however, the kind of doctor you'd call if
you're dead. He teaches at UCSF in his spare time. He's big on the pathology
The Honorable Albert Mandel. 63; San Francisco Superior Court Judge; arraignment judge.
Most days don't start very well for Judge Albert Mandel,
a Superior Court veteran who oversees criminal arraignments and bail hearings.
Today is no exception. It's seventy-five degrees outside and he's in court
instead of on the golf course. He's also a champion squash player. Thirty
years ago, Al Mandel was an up-and-comer at the Jackson law firm. He's
been trying to figure out a way to move to the more grandiose trappings
of the federal courts ever since. A member of a prominent San Francisco
family and a political conservative, he was appointed to the bench at
the age of thirty-six. He had the requisite political connections, but
the stars have never lined up his way. His bitterness is reflected in
his demeanor. He looks a little bit like Ross Perot. He acts like him,
too. He administers expedient justice from the seat of his pants. He's
known around the Hall as "Hanging Al." Skipper's arraignment won't take
The Honorable Louise Vanden Heuvel; 55; San Francisco Superior Court Judge; preliminary hearing judge.
Judge Vanden Heuvel is in her mid-fifties. A former prosecutor with a pale complexion, a willowy frame, and a stoic air, he's been listening to motions like ours for the last twenty years. Although I have never heard her raise her voice, her tone is nonetheless commanding.
The Honorable Joanne Kelly. 62; San Francisco Superior Court Judge; trial judge.
Judge Kelly is a large woman in her early sixties with
a gruff bearing and a no-nonsense manner. She has broken a lot of new
ground for women in the San Francisco legal community. She was one of
the first women to make partner at a large San Francisco law firm and
she was appointed to the bench twenty years ago. She's very funny when
she's telling war stories at bar association functions. When she's on
the bench, however, she's all business, and when she's in chambers, she
can be a terror.
Natalie Gates. 61; Wife of Skipper Gates; society matron; philanthropist.
Natalie is Skipper's long-suffering wife. Serious old-line money. Her great-grandfather was a Crocker. Her mother's family used to own the Chronicle, where her name appears regularly in the society column.
Natalie is sitting in one of the armchairs. To her credit, she has always played her role with style and eloquence. Her charitable work does seem to reflect a good heart. "It has been a long time, Michael," she says as she stands to shake my hand. The people in this corner of town never seem to forget their manners.
Reading glasses hang from a gold chain around her neck. She's late fifties. Though she isn't a classic beauty, she carries herself with graceful elegance, and like most of her peers in this part of the woods, I suspect she's had a few things tucked in here and there. I presume she has a personal trainer who runs her through her paces a couple of times a week. All things considered, she looks pretty good for a woman whose husband was arrested for murder three hours ago.
Natalie doesn't fluster. Her great-grandfathers were among the founding fathers of San Francisco. She grew up three blocks from here. She's a Mount Holyoke graduate and the wife of the district attorney. She's been through political campaigns with Skipper and Ann. She does what she must. Rosie once said that Natalie reminded her of Pat Nixon.
Ann Huntington Gates. 35; Skipper Gates's daughter; San Francisco attorney and member of Board of Supervisors.
Ann Huntington Gates is a one-woman wrecking crew in local government. A couple of years ago, Skipper convinced the mayor to appoint Ann to fill a vacancy on the board of supervisors. It's a decision the mayor has regretted ever since. She lobbies long and hard on behalf of the real estate developers and other big-business interests. By and large, the people from the neighborhoods hate her. She doesn't seem to care. When she isn't terrorizing the board of supervisors, she operates at the high end of the legal food chain. She's a partner at Williams and Perry, a big downtown firm. She's a tenacious commercial litigator. She'll remind you of it every chance she gets.
Her features resemble her father's. She's a tall woman in her mid-thirties with highlighted blond hair and an athletic build. Her fair skin has a creamy texture. Her tone has the inflection of a woman who was educated in private schools and attended debutante balls. Unfortunately, her marriage to a carefully selected member of the cotillion set didn't work out. If you believe the gossip columnist in the Chronicle, Ann can be quite a handful. It made the papers last year when she and a dozen of her pals rented out a South-of-Market night club for an all-night party. Somebody called the cops when things got too noisy. Skipper had to intercede to get the charges dropped. The papers had a field day. It was a huge embarrassment for Skipper and the mayor. Rumor has it that Ann paid over a hundred thousand dollars to the owner of the club to fix the damage.
Whenever she's seen in public with a member of the male gender, it turns up in the Chronicle society column. At the moment, she's been linked romantically with a TV star whose nighttime soap opera is filmed in the city. She denies it, of course. Her alleged beau is still married to one of Ann's neighbors. So it goes in Pacific Heights.
Turner Hamilton Stanford IV. 61; San Francisco "juice" lawyer/attorney, political consultant, private investor and restauranteur.
I'm walking past the intake desk when I hear my name called out by an unmistakable velvet voice. "Michael, do you have a moment to chat?" Skipper's close friend and my former partner at Simpson and Gates, Turner Hamilton Stanford IV, doesn't speak to anyone. He chats. Turner is Skipper's confidant, campaign manager and former law partner. He lives around the corner from Skipper in Pacific Heights. They spend a lot of time hobnobbing in the rarified air of San Francisco's aristocracy.
I turn and look into the eyes of the man I once dubbed the "Silver Fox." Everything about him is in muted tones of gray. The impeccably-tailored Italian suit. The neatly-pressed kerchief in his breast pocket. The full head of hair and meticulously trimmed beard. Turner may be the best-dressed man to have set foot in the Hall in thirty years. At sixty-one, he carries his slender six-foot two-inch frame with the erect bearing of a former athlete. He and Skipper were teammates on the Stanford basketball team.
We shake hands. Turner's polished, soft-spoken demeanor and elegant air mask a vicious greedy streak. In legal circles, he's what's called a "juice" lawyer, which means he charges his clients exorbitant sums to manipulate the San Francisco planning commission and obtain building permits and zoning variances. Most people believe PacBell Park never would have been built without his influence. In his spare time, he dabbles in real estate development and political consulting. He also owns an obscenely expensive French restaurant near Union Square.
Turner's earned millions from his law practice, but he made most of his money the old-fashioned way--he inherited it. Although I have never been able to trace his exact lineage, he claims he is a descendant of the family that founded the university in Palo Alto that bears his name. I've always had doubts about that.
Dan Morris. 45; San Francisco political consultant.
Dan Morris is Sherman's campaign manager. He's the most successful political consultant on the West Coast. He's also the most vicious. Although he didn't invent the negative campaign ad, he may have perfected it. He makes the guys in Washington look like choirboys. He ran Skipper's campaign for DA two years ago. Then they had a little falling out. Seems Dan wanted to double his fee this time around. Skipper thought the four hundred thousand Dan charged for the DA's race was exorbitant and he balked. True to form, Dan switched sides. He's already taken off the gloves. Although it's still early, the Sherman camp is running attack ads suggesting Skipper isn't morally qualified to be the chief law enforcement officer of the State of California.
As far as I can tell, he has no political agenda of his own. He's the ultimate political chameleon. I don't know if he's a Republican or a Democrat. He's up-front about it. He's in it for the money. He'll represent Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Communists and former professional wrestlers if they can come up with the eight hundred thousand dollars he charges to run a campaign.
Jason Parnelli. 37; political consultant; assistant to Dan Morris; prominent family.
Morris's toady is a young man named Jason Parnelli, who looks and talks a little bit like George Stephanopoulos, but has the brain of George of the Jungle. His job consists of agreeing with everything Morris says and shilling for whatever candidate they are currently representing.
Kevin Anderson. 28; Johnny Garcia's social worker; mayor's advisor on youth issues.
He introduces a clean-cut man in his mid-twenties. Kevin Anderson works for the mayor's office. I've seen him on TV from time to time. He's the mayor's advisor on youth issues and has political aspirations of his own.
"Kevin is a good guy. He works in the mayor's office and he's helped us raise money for the center. He's a little full of himself at times, but his heart is in the right place. His father is a big wheel in the real estate business. Some people think he's trying to run the working-class folks out of the neighborhood. He bought a couple of buildings on Guerrero Street and has converted them into expensive lofts and the neighbors weren't happy about it. But he's from Visitacion Valley and he's never forgotten his roots. He's donated millions over the years to many neighborhood causes. He made a seven-figure contribution to St. Peter's to help pay for the refurbishing of the building after the fire."
A cynic might also suggest that Anderson and his father make large donations to neighborhood charities to keep the neighbors from contesting their development projects. I'm inclined to be cynical.
Donald Martinez. 62; owner of Consolidated Produce; influential businessman; philanthropist; head of Mission Redevelopment Fund.
Everybody knows about Donald Martinez. On a given day, you'll find his name in the paper for any number of reasons. He runs one of the biggest produce wholesalers in the city and owns a majority interest in a large construction contracting firm. He has a lot of pull downtown. He's in tight with the mayor. He is also the head of the Mission Redevelopment Fund, a local nonprofit that provides start-up capital to neighborhood businesses.
Andy Holton. 24; Johnny Garcia's roommate; drug dealer; Internet entrepreneur.
"Andy Holton is another kid who was on the street. . .A little older than Johnny Garcia, but a very different background. His father runs a biotech company. The family disowned him when he became addicted to heroin. He came through the center a few years ago. He worked at the same restaurant that Johnny did."
Father Ramon Aguirre. 48; Priest at St. Peter's Catholic Church in the Mission District.
Nowadays, there aren't too many churches where you can
recite your confession to a priest who knows you by name. For the last
twenty years or so, St. Peter's has been the sanctuary of Father Ramon
Aguirre, a strong-willed priest who grew up a few blocks from here and
was a classmate of mine at the seminary. When we were in school, Ramon
once told me that he didn't just want to become a priest; he wanted to
become the priest at St. Peter's. He has brought a modern perspective
and unlimited energy to a once-demoralized parish. He's known as the "rock-and-roll
reverend" because he allows rock bands to play at youth functions in the
social hall on Saturday nights. From time to time, he's been known to
pick up a guitar and take the microphone. He's the first to admit that
he must bring political as well as spiritual capital to hold the parish
together. He is worthy of the legacy of the legendary Reverend Peter Yorke,
a pastor who plied his trade in this very building over a century ago.
Yorke fought for labor unions, edited his own newspaper and supported
Irish revolutionaries. He once sat in this very confessional booth.
Ernesto Clemente. 58; Executive Director of Mission Youth Center and community activist.
I've known Ernie Clemente for years. A native of the Mission and a leader of the Hispanic community, he used to work for the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. About fifteen years ago, he decided to attack the problems of San Francisco's urban youth head on. He personally raised the money to start the Mission Youth Center, a combination dormitory, social hall, halfway house and drug counseling center for the poor kids of the Mission, Bay View and Hunters Point neighborhoods. When I worked at Simpson and Gates, I used to do pro bono legal work for him. My former partners were never happy about it. Except for a few enlightened souls, they thought law firms were formed for the sole purpose of making money. I'm embarrassed to realize I haven't done any free work for him since I moved to Rosie's office. I guess it's easier to give your services away when somebody else is footing the tab.
"Candy." 21; prostitute.
We're in Hillary Payne's office, where the prostitute known as Candy is telling her story to Rosie and me. Her eyes are dull. "He paid me for sex," she says. "He liked to handcuff me to the bed and put duct tape on my face." Her dirty-blond hair cascades into her eyes. She's wearing jeans and a white blouse. Her skin has a pallor you often see in drug users.
"How long were you involved with Mr. Gates?" Rosie asks Candy.
"About a year."
"How much did he pay you?"
"Five hundred dollars a night." Her eyes never leave Rosie's.
"Why did you stop seeing him?"
Candy dabs at her eyes. "He got rougher and rougher. I was afraid he was going to kill me."
Roberta Hall. 19; prostitute.
The camera shifts to the other woman, who has short dark hair. "Roberta," Jade says, "is only nineteen years old. She's been involved in a destructive relationship with the same man." The second prostitute is younger and more vulnerable-looking than Candy. And more articulate.
Dr. Theodore Raffel. 58; professor at Stanford Medical
School; medical expert for defense.
Our medical expert, Ted Raffel, is in his late fifties, with wiggly jowls, a bald head and a chatty manner. He may be a Stanford professor, but he looks like he could be tending bar at Harrington's. His delivery is folksy. I wish I had found him a few years ago. Ed Molinari uses him for his class-action cases all the time. Raffel acknowledges the jurors with a warm smile as he takes his place in the witness box. According to Ed, he's great if you need somebody to charm the pants off a jury.
He states his name for the record. He adds, "I'm a full professor in the departments of pathology and trauma surgery at Stanford Medical School." He nods as he says it. He is very good at nodding. In fact, he was doing so with great authority during our rehearsals, even when he was spouting unadulterated bullshit..
Nicholas Hanson ("Nick the Dick"). 85; flamboyant private investigator; writes mysteries in his spare time.
"Nick the Dick" Hanson, has been working as a private investigator in North Beach for more than sixty years. Now in his mid-eighties, he started out as the lead investigator for a flamboyant criminal defense attorney named Nunzio Della Ventura, who was the law partner of Ed Molinari's father. All of Nick's children and a couple of his grandchildren work for him. He's a natty, pint-sized man-about-town who writes mystery novels in his spare time and relishes publicity.
Morton R. Goldberg ("Mort the Sport"). 65; television commentator; over-the-hill criminal defense attorney.
The TV is tuned to the news. Three times a week, an aging criminal defense attorney named Mort Goldberg holds court on Channel 4. "Mort the Sport" was a fixture in the corridors of the Hall for four decades before he found a new career as a TV legal analyst a couple of years ago. His segment is known as "Mort's Torts." Although he once taught criminal procedure at Hastings, his TV spot isn't scholarly. On the other hand, it's wildly entertaining. He's sort of a short, bald, Jewish Rush Limbaugh. Theoretically, he is supposed to discuss legal issues, but on a given day, he'll cover everything from world politics to the state of the Giants' pitching staff. His producers admit they never know what he is going to say. His ratings are almost as high as the attractive young woman who reads the traffic reports and has every male in the nine-county Bay Area sending her marriage proposals.
Jade Warner. 44; talk show host.
Jade Warner is a former housewife who was married to a heavy hitter in one of the high-tech companies in Palo Alto. Her husband left her for a younger woman. She found the nastiest divorce lawyer in the Silicon Valley and took the guy to the cleaners. After the dust settled, she had time on her hands and she started giving advice on a local cable access station. She developed a cult following when the president of a dot-com said she thought Jade's "tough-love" approach was the wave of the future. That was two years ago. Now she's considered a marriage guru and has her own show on Channel 4. She's running head-to-head against Oprah in the Bay Area.
The star is a statuesque blond in her late forties. Her public confessional every afternoon is a combination of Phil Donohue, Oprah, Jerry Springer, Howard Stern and Doctor Laura, with a dash of Judge Judy thrown in. She has a knack for finding people who want to tell their deepest, most sordid secrets to a syndicated audience. Her show is the highest-rated afternoon talk fest in any local market in the country.
Jade Warner's theme song is a synthesizer-enhanced disco version of "I Am Woman." The music plays and the announcer intones that Jade will be visiting today with two women who have been involved in destructive relationships with a prominent local politician. Jade never meets with anybody--she visits. And everybody she visits with is involved in a destructive relationship.
Sylvia Fernandez. 70; Rosie's mother.
Rosie and I are eating turkey sandwiches in her mother's kitchen. The little wooden bungalow could use a coat of paint and some new carpet. Rosie's mom won't hear of it. She says the next owner of the house will pay for the new paint job. Our repeated suggestions that she treat herself to a few new appliances have gone unheeded. Hand-made curtains adorn the small windows that look out upon a paved backyard. I can see the steeple of St. Peter's. The house has hardly changed since I first met Rosie. I suspect it looked about the same when her parents moved in almost forty years ago, except there's a small color TV in the corner of the kitchen and an old laptop computer on the dining room table. Sylvia uses the computer to e-mail Grace. The TV is always tuned to CNN. Black-and-white pictures of Rosie and her brother and sister when they were kids hang on the kitchen wall.
Sylvia is a shorter, chunkier, older version of Rosie. She has been widowed for twenty years, but has managed to get by. She always seems to have a few extra dollars when Grace wants a special toy. She is cleaning vegetables at the sink. She's wearing a blue housedress and, in a modest concession to the twenty-first century, Nikes. Her shoulder-length silver hair is pulled into a ball at the nape of her neck. She celebrated her seventieth birthday last year.
Tony Fernandez. 48; Rosie's brother. Owner of Tony's Produce in Mission District.
Rosie's older brother, Tony, owns a produce market is around the corner from St. Peter's.
Rolanda, our secretary and office manager, is his daughter.
Tony's a good guy. He started working at the produce market that he now owns when he was in high school. About ten years ago, he'd saved up enough money to buy it. He works hard and he knows how to run his business. He's had to deal with some very tough stuff. About a year after he bought the market, his wife contracted leukemia. She died a short time later and he's never been the same. He's as friendly as always, but there is a profound sadness about him that wasn't there when Perlita was alive, and he hasn't shown any real interest in women since then.
Rolanda Fernandez. 25; Rosie's niece; Tony's daughter; law student; law clerk and office manager at Fernandez and Daley.
Margret Murphy Daley; 69; Mike's mother; suffering from Alzheimer's.
My sixty-nine year-old mother walks in with a platter of roast chicken. Margaret Murphy Daley is about four-foot-ten, with short gray hair and hazel eyes. Her full-time attendant, a young British woman in her early twenties, follows right behind her. "Eat your chicken, Tommy," my mom tells me. About half the time she confuses me with my older brother, who died in Vietnam. I glance at Tommy's picture on the mantel in the living room. He's been frozen in time at the age of twenty-one. He was a star quarterback at Cal before he volunteered for the Marines.
"It looks real good, Mama," I say, as I take a piece of chicken and pass the platter to Pete. She and her attendant adjourn to the kitchen.
Dave Evans. 55; head of security at Fairmont Hotel; former FBI agent.
A man wearing a blue suit opens the door to my knock. He's expecting me. A wire extends from the walkie-talkie on his belt to his right ear. If he had dark glasses, he could pass for a secret service agent. "Are you Mr. Daley?" he asks.
"Dave Evans. Director of building security." His delivery is crisp. He looks like he's in his early fifties. He invites me into his tidy suite. In one of the inner offices, I can see another man in a dark suit watching an array of television monitors. We go into Evans's windowless office. He tells me he's worked at the Fairmont for five years. I was right. He used to work for the FBI.
Joseph Wong. 58; room service waiter at the Fairmont.
"I talked to Joseph Wong, the room service waiter at the Fairmont," Pete says. "Very discreet. Didn't want to talk. Been working at the Fairmont his entire life. Started as a kid. Straight out of Chinatown. Lives in the Richmond now. "
Hector Ramirez. 33; Driver for Consolidated Produce