By: M.L. Stein
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reporter Bill Wallace was covering an immigration smuggling trial in federal court when defense attorney Maureen Kallins accused the prosecutor of planting a story in the Chronicle that damaged her client, John Luong, and asked for a mistrial.
“I suddenly realized she was talking about my story that was in the paper that morning,” Wallace said later. “I rolled my eyes and shook my head to say ‘No, no.'”
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel saw his movements and said, “I believe there is someone out there who wants to say something,” and allowed Wallace to speak. The jury was out of the room.
Wallace denied Kallins’ charge, asserting that the material for his story identifying Luong as an organized-crime boss was obtained from public documents and interviews with other defense lawyers ? not a leak.
Luong is charged with attempting to land dozens of undocumented Chinese from two vessels at two Northern California coastal sites in 1993. The Chronicle story also suggested that Luong may also have been a drug dealer and involved in interstate microchip thefts.
“This was very unusual,” Wallace recalled. “I have covered many trials and never had anything like this happen.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Gruel also denied leaking to Wallace.
Patel questioned jurors for two hours on Kallins’ accusation and the Chronicle story before denying the motion for a mistrial. As Kallins grew more upset over the rulings, Patel told her to “calm down” and to take a walk in the corridor to compose herself.
Two weeks later, Patel held Kallins in contempt and jailed her for two hours for disruptive behavior.
Kallins’ courtroom antics, however, earned her a Page One profile, with photo and sidebar, in the San Francisco Daily Journal, a legal affairs newspaper.
?(E&P Web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com)
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher March 28, 1998) [Caption]