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Fred Hiestand, Sacramento lawyer who advised Huey Newton and Jerry Brown, dies at 79

Fred Hiestand, a Sacramento-based lawyer and lobbyist who counseled Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton and former California Gov. Jerry Brown among others, died July 2 following a cancer diagnosis. He was 79.

Having worked as the Civil Justice Association of California’s general counsel since its founding in 1979, Hiestand spent his career writing about and arguing issues including medical liability and tort reform.

Those topics might sound dense or complicated but, according to Kyla Christoffersen Powell, president and CEO of CJAC, the briefs Hiestand wrote were “works of art.”

“One time, I was reading a brief that he wrote, and I looked down and realized I was reading lyrics to a Bob Dylan song.” Powell said. “That’s not something you expect to see in a legal brief.”

John Norwood, a partner at Norwood Associates alongside Hiestand, described him as “a real renaissance man.”

“When we went to dinner (recently), he mentioned to me that it was his intent to make his briefs sing,” Norwood said. “They were full of quotes from philosophers, former justices and poets. They weren’t long — they grabbed your attention and took you back in history.”

Gov. Brown, who Hiestand worked with as special counsel on medical liability during his first administration beginning in 1975, similarly noted that Hiestand “had a gift for legal writing.”

“In the minds of many lawyers, he was exceptionally creative,” Brown said in a telephone interview with The Sacramento Bee. “He always made arguments eloquently, and he was a person of upstanding intellect — he was also just an interesting person.”

Powell said that one of her favorite “Fredisms” was his proclivity to incorporate the story of the Sword of Damocles into his writing as a metaphor. As the legend goes, after a subject of the rich and powerful King

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Weinstein attorney tries to blame Jennifer Siebel Newsom


Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

It’s still 1940 in a courtroom in downtown Los Angeles, where a “bimbo” who supposedly tried to get ahead by sleeping with a big-time Hollywood movie producer is turning on the waterworks.

I say this because unfortunately, nothing about Harvey Weinstein defense attorney Mark Werksman’s cross-examination of California’s first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has been updated in the years since we all thought that only liars recalled traumatic events imperfectly. Now we know that it’s actually the liars whose stories are tidy and perfectly groomed. They never vary, because they are scripted from the start.

But in the retro world of rape prosecutions, the defense never varies, either. So of course Werksman suggested that it’s highly suspicious that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife, whom the defense attorney called a “bimbo” in his opening argument, has remembered more about the night in 2005 when she says Weinstein raped her than she did when she first talked to police about it.

Why didn’t she say from the start that he had penetrated her manually, for instance? Why didn’t she mention that he’d dropped a gift off at her home? And how could she not remember, even now, how long she was in her hotel suite, or what time it was when she left?

After trying not to think about what happened at all for many years, she answered, she couldn’t just pull those memories out of a trunk in her mental attic all pressed neatly and the camera was ready.

“I offered to talk to detectives initially to support other women, not to be up here on the witness stand,” Siebel Newsom said. “I

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