Oakland’s new city attorney brings on heavy hitters in Barzaghi case. Just a few short months into his term as Oakland city attorney, John Russo is up to his eyebrows in high-profile headaches.
This week it appeared he may have to defend the city in court against an employee’s allegation that she was sexually harassed by a high-level advisor to Mayor Jerry Brown.Jacques Barzaghi is accused of making sexual comments to the woman when she, Barzaghi and Brown traveled to Mexico for the inauguration of President Vincente Fox. The woman has been on leave since Barzaghi returned from a reported suspension stemming from an internal city investigation of the complaint, said Andrew Schwartz, one of her attorneys. The city has not publicly revealed the results of its probe — including whether Barzaghi was punished.
On Thursday the employee’s attorneys took an important step toward filing a lawsuit. And today, Russo said, the city will formally retain big guns from San Francisco — John Keker to represent Barzaghi and Gary Lafayette to represent the city — to protect Oakland’s interests.
Keker, of Keker & Van Nest, is the politically connected criminal defense attorney best known for being a prosecutor during the Iran-Contra scandal. He was also hired to represent Zula
Jones, a San Francisco Human Rights Commission official who was indicted by a federal grand jury last spring for her alleged role in a minority contracting scheme.