A few dozen federal practitioners filed into the ceremonial courtroom on Golden Gate to remember Jerry Ladar, the flamboyant federal prosecutor turned defense lawyer who passed away late last year.
The ceremony focused on Ladar’s flair for the dramatic, and Eastern District Judge William Shubb had the galleries rolling with stories about Ladar’s car phone — nearly the only guy in the 1960s to have such a device. As a federal prosecutor working for Ladar, Shubb came to San Francisco to spend the day with him. Ladar came into the office, dropped off “Cecil’s dry cleaning (a reference to Cecil Poole, the U.S. Attorney at the time),” and took Shubb up o the roof of the federal building, saying he had problems with his car phone.
“There were these three big transmitters up there,” Shubb remembered. “One said, ‘FBI.’ Another said, ‘Secret Service.’ And the other one said, ‘Ladar.’”
Current U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello likewise got belly laughs with his deadpan delivery about meeting Ladar (“us Jewish guys used to hang out together”). Ladar knew all the judges, prosecutors and agents by first name, and the judges all loved him.
“I’m convinced in my mind it was because of Jerry Ladar we got the sentencing guidelines,” Russoniello said.
To Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, Ladar was her “early warning system,” always knowing first who got which judicial appointment or when a scandal was going to break.
“He was an impish cousin, a zany but never crazy uncle, and a doting father,” she said.
— Dan Levine