Terence Hallinan

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Terence Hallinan
District Attorney of San Francisco
In office
Preceded by Arlo Smith
Succeeded by Kamala Harris
Personal details
Born (1936-12-04) December 4, 1936 (age 78)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
London School of Economics
UC Hastings College of the Law
Profession Lawyer

Terence Hallinan (born December 4, 1936) is an American attorney and politician from San Francisco, California. He is the second of six sons born to Progressive Party presidential candidate Vincent Hallinan and his wife Vivian. Hallinan was educated at the London School of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He currently works in private practice in San Francisco.

Early life[edit]

Hallinan grew up in a 22-room mansion in Ross, CA.[1] At age twelve Hallinan fell off his horse, fractured his skull, and spent five days stranded outside Yosemite before being rescued by helicopter.[2]

As a young man Hallinan developed, in the words of California Supreme Court Justice Raymond Peters, a “habitual and continuing resort to fisticuffs to settle personal differences.”[3] Hallinan became a ward of juvenile court in 1954 when he took a case of beer from three sailors after he and his brother had run them off the road on Point Reyes and beat them.[2] The juvenile court banned Hallinan from Marin County so he had to get a job in a warehouse in Sacramento before clerking for the Longshoremen's Union in Hawaii.[4] Shortly after turning eighteen Hallinan pled guilty to battery for punching the proprietor of a Lake County ski lodge. In 1957 Hallinan punched a fraternity brother who denied him admission to a private party. Hallinan was indicted in 1959 after he broke a man’s jaw during a brawl at a Greenbrae bowling alley. While at UC Berkeley Hallinan boxed for the Golden Bears and spared with Cassius Clay in the 1960 Olympic boxing team eliminations.[5] Due to a perceived skill at knockouts he went by the name “Kayo” Hallinan.

Hallinan’s propensity for fistfights continued in law school. When Hallinan and his brother were picketing in San Francisco against the House Un-American Activities Committee, some of their classmates arrived to picket the Hallinans.[3] Strong words ensued and a fight was arranged in Golden Gate Park. Initially Hallinan was part of the crowd of UC Hastings student onlookers but he soon began a brawl with one of the opposing spectators. Hallinan is also known to have engaged in fistfights at a Young Democrats meeting and over a woman while at UC Hastings.[3]

As a student Hallinan also became interested in nonviolent resistance. While attending the London School of Economics Hallinan was arrested with Lord Bertrand Russell during a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament sit-down demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy.[6] When he returned to America Hallinan joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and spent the summer of 1963 in Mississippi.[4] Local authorities jailed Hallinan twice but the U.S. Attorney General and the National Council of Churches intervened to secure his release.[3]

Back in San Francisco Hallinan helped organize the W.E.B. DuBois Club to support Communist Party USA.[7] In the fall of 1963 Hallinan became involved in the Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination and participated in sit-ins at the Sheraton Palace Hotel, Mel's Drive-In, and the Van Ness Avenue Cadillac showroom. Hallinan’s civil disobedience in the city resulted in six arrests and two separate criminal convictions.[3]

Legal practice[edit]

After graduating UC Hastings Hallinan’s criminal history proved an obstacle to his admission to the California State Bar. The Committee of Bar Examiners required several hearings over Hallninan’s moral character. Hallinan introduced evidence that his violent tendencies were the result of a thyroid deficiency.[3] His mother, however, testified that Hallinan became violent in response to the bullying caused by his father’s vocal support of the Soviet Union during the Red Scare.[4] California State Assemblymen Willie Brown and John L. Burton both testified that Hallinan possessed good moral character.[3] The Committee questioned Hallinan on if civil disobedience is compatible with being an attorney at law. Hallinan responded that he thought “it’s an unfortunate thing” that more German lawyers did not disobey the Third Reich.[3]

The California State Bar refused to admit Hallinan. Hallinan appealed to the Supreme Court of California, and won. Justice Peters found that if the court denied professional licenses to everyone who engaged in a sit-in “we would deprive the community of the services of many highly qualified persons of the highest moral courage.” Justice Marshall F. McComb dissented, writing that Hallinan believes he has a “right to violate the law”. [3]

Beginning his career during the peak of the 60's counterculture Hallinan defended hundreds of drug charges out of the Haight-Ashbury.[8] Janis Joplin’s biographer alleges that Hallinan almost died after the singer shot him up with heroin at her Noe Street apartment.[5] Hallinan successfully defended the Diggers after they were arrested for giving away free food on the steps of San Francisco City Hall.[9] In 1968 he unsuccessfully defended the mutiny court-marshal of the Presidio 27.[8]

As an attorney, he successfully argued to have the murder convictions of serial-killer Juan Corona overturned on appeal, and represented Corona in his retrial which resulted in 25 convictions for murder and a life sentence.[10]

Hallinan unsuccessfully defended William Leonard Pickard for running an LSD lab in Mountain View, CA and latter used the DA office’s official letterhead to personally recommend Pickard be bailed after being caught in the largest LSD bust in history.[11] In 1974 Hallinan quickly left the Patty Hearst defense team after they rejected his involuntary intoxication theory of the case.[12]

Political career[edit]

Hallinan lost his first election campaign to Harvey Milk in the San Francisco Board of Supervisors election, 1977. Hallinan would finally win a supervisor's seat in 1988.[5] In 1995 elections the police union and both the city's daily newspapers endorsed recently fired senior prosecutor Bill Fazio against incumbent DA Arlo Smith. Hallinan successfully forced and won a runoff election through a campaign run by his longtime aid Ross Mirkarimi.[13]

The former defense attorney promptly fired 14 senior prosecutors, leaving pink slips on their chairs during lunch, then posted an armed guard outside his new office in the Hall of Justice.[5] Prominent Irish real estate developer Joe O'Donoghue confronted Hallinan about the firings while attending a birthday party at Izzy's Steaks and Chops. Hallinan responded by punching him. The resulting scuffle was lampooned by David Letterman.[14]

When two prosecutors were caught having sex in their office Hallinan fired the man but retained the woman. Hallinan's chief assistant Marla Miller resigned over the scandal so Hallinan replaced her with David Millstein, the private attorney who had represented him in the sexual harassment lawsuit he settled out of court while a city supervisor.[15]

in 1999 Hallinan was investigated for felony misappropriation of funds for a salary he paid out to his cousin.[16] After 22 year veteran city Public Defender Jeff Brown, cousin of Jerry Brown, withdrew his endorsement of Hallinan, Governor Gray Davis appointed him to the California Public Utilities Commission.[17] Mayor Willie Brown then appointed the daughter of State Senator John Burton to the open post, thirty-five years after the men had testified at Hallinan’s State Bar hearings.

After a close fought reelection Hallinan's office sunk to the lowest case winning percentage of any DA’s office in the state.[18] While serving as DA, he became a notable opponent of capital punishment. He also was a strong advocate on behalf of decriminalizing prostitution.[19] In his tenure he supported medical marijuana and is now an advisor of NORML.[20]

When Diane Whipple was mauled to death by a dog, Hallinan brought murder charges against its owners. After a nationally watched trial that had to be moved to Los Angeles, Hallinan’s prosecutors, gay former Jesuit priest Jim Hammer and Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, won the conviction.[21]

The entire SFPD leadership was indicted by Hallinan after a bar fight involving assistant police chief Alex Fagan's son.[22] No police department in American history had been subject to such sweeping indictments and the scandal became known as Fajitagate.[23] Most charges were latter dropped and the only two officers tried were acquitted.[24]

By indicting Chief Earl Sanders, the city's first black police chief who had helped win the lawsuit setting racial quotas on SFPD hiring, Hallinan was expected to loose crucial support from the city's black voters.[18] Hallinan was later sued by Chief Sanders.[25]

Hallinan was defeated in the next election for DA by Kamala Harris.[26] After being defeated by Harris, Hallinan returned to private practice with his son, focusing almost exclusively on medical marijuana cases.[27]

Mitchell Brothers porn empire heir James Mitchell fired Hallinan before being convicted of murdering his infant daughter’s mother with a baseball bat.[28]

In late 2014, Hallinan was temporarily suspended by the State Bar of California for co-mingling his and a trust client's funds.[29][30]


  1. ^ Zamora, Jim Herron (10 December 2003). "HALLINAN: A man at odds with autority". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Marinucci, Carla (6 December 1995). ""Kayo" Hallinan's winding path from teen ward of the court to candidate for DA". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hallinan v. Committee of Bar Examiners, 421 P.2d 76, 65 Cal. 2d 447, 55 Cal. Rptr. 228 (1966).
  4. ^ a b c Justice Policy Institute and Children and Family Justice Center, Second Chances: 100 Years of the Children's Court, Giving Kids a Chance to Make a Better Choice (1999).
  5. ^ a b c d Claiborne, William (20 February 1996). "San Francisco Prosecutor Tries Something Different". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Note, Admission to Practice Law: Civil Rights Arrests and Numerous Fist Fights Do Not Evidence the Type of Character Deficiency Which Excludes an Applicant From Admission to the Bar, 55 CALIF. L. REV. 948 (1967).
  7. ^ Thirteenth Report of the California Senate Factfinding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities to the 1965 Regular Session of the California Legislature (1965).
  8. ^ a b Noble, Kenneth B. (18 January 1996). "Fighting Crime, Gently". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Van Niekerken, Bill (1 April 2015). "From the Archive: Behind the bandage". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Juan Corona". latinamericanstudies.org. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  11. ^ Rosenfeld, Seth (19 December 2000). "LSD Trafficking Suspect has Intriguing Backers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  12. ^ Mankiewicz, Josh (15 July 2009). "Kidnapped Heiress: The Patty Hearst Story". Dateline NBC. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  13. ^ Zamora, Jim Herron (7 October 1999). "S.F. cops give overwhelming backing to Fazio over Hallinan". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  14. ^ Dolan, Maura (5 April 1997). "A Liberal Lays Down the Law in S.F.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  15. ^ Martin, Glen (16 June 1996). "Fighting Spirit in the Hall of Justice". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  16. ^ Winokur, Scott (21 May 1999). "Audit skewers DA on fund use". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  17. ^ Van Derbeken, Jaxon (19 January 2001). "S.F.'s Jeff Brown Picked for Post On State PUC". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Dolan, Maura (10 March 2003). "Hallinan Often Is Center of Fray in City by the Bay". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  19. ^ Perillo, Lois (May 1998). "Police Beat: Crimes Go Down In March". The Noe Valley Voice. Retrieved March 6, 2015. The man is no longer in jail, however. The district attorney dismissed the case "in the interest of justice". 
  20. ^ Terence Hallinan NORML
  21. ^ Gorman, Anna (25 February 2002). "Attorneys in Dog-Mauling Case Deploy Widely Different Styles" (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "After Fajitagate". The New Yorker. 14 July 2003. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  23. ^ Toobin, Jeffery (14 July 2003). "Fajita Justice". The New Yorker. 
  24. ^ Egelko, Bob (12 June 2006). "Civil jury finds against two cops in 2002 Fajitagate case". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Egelko, Bob (30 October 2007). "U.S. Supreme Court rejects lawsuit by ex-S.F. police chief". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  26. ^ Martin, Nina (August 2007). "Why Kamala Matters". San Francisco Magazine. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  27. ^ Komp, Ellen (13 June 2012). "Smell the Truth Interview: Terence Hallinan". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  28. ^ Lee, Henry (25 August 2011). "Porn heir-murderer loses legal fight with Hallinan". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  29. ^ Ex-D.A. Terence Hallinan suspended from practicing law, By Jaxon Van Derbeken and Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle, 15 Dec 2014
  30. ^ pdf, State Bar of California

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hallinan, Vivian. "My Wild Irish Rogues." Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1952.