rumor mill

Nasty Rumors Could Derail a Gay Lawyer’s Bid to Serve His City

A San Francisco lawyer named L. Julius M. Turman has a mile-long list of awards and accomplishments, friends and advocates throughout City Hall, and a case history that would instill confidence in any client.

So what’s with all the nasty whispering?

Turman recently applied for a vacant seat on the city’s Police Commission, prompting SF Weekly and the SF Appeal to revisit a 2006 accusation of domestic abuse leveled by an ex-boyfriend. It was a messy affair: the boyfriend first declined to press charges, then changed his mind; Turman said he was just defending himself; ultimately he wasn’t charged, and settled a civil suit with the boyfriend.

End of story, right? Nope.

Now that Turman’s in the running for a seat on the Police Commission, rumors have started afresh that District Attorney Kamala Harris (who went on to become the Prop-8-opposing Attorney General of California) declined to prosecute Turman as a favor, since Turman had clout with a local political club.

It would make for a thrilling case of intrigue, if only there were any reason to believe that it’s true. The only incriminating evidence anyone can come up with: Turman and Harris exchanged polite words at a fundraiser.

Meanwhile, the rumors have overshadowed Turman’s qualifications: awards from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the Minority Bar Coalition, Lesbians and Gays of African Descent and more. He was the Grand Marshall of the 2008 SF Pride Parade. He co-chaired a San Francisco Bar Association committee that transformed the hiring, retention and promotion of LGBT attorneys. He also serves as State Senator Mark Leno’s proxy to the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, and is a Human Rights Commissioner.

But what’s really telling here is the source of the gossip. SF Weekly identified some particularly cutting rhetoric coming from Larry Bush, an openly gay fixture of the local political scene. Bush told the newspaper that to consider Turman for the Police Commission “would seem to scrape the bottom of the list for an applicant.”

But maybe SF Weekly should have checked their own archives before quoting Bush. Here are a few choice quotes from a 1995 profile of Larry Bush:

  • Larry Bush is the safari guide of San Francisco politics. He loads and cocks the gun, then lets others pull the trigger.
  • Others insist he’s a mean-spirited and obsessive manipulator who uses the mantle of journalism to pursue a petty personal agenda.
  • Mayor Jordan departed from his well-rehearsed remarks to attack Bush. “He’s ridiculous,” Jordan said. “He’s never constructive. All he does is tear things down.”
  • Bush would sneak peeks at the scheduling book and if someone was meeting with the mayor without his benediction, he would get on the phone and smear them in the community.
  • Sometimes, Bush’s old adversaries say, he would undermine programs that would benefit the lesbian and gay community merely because they were advanced by someone he didn’t like.
  • A collector of Christmas tree-ornaments and a master chef, he prepares what is said to be a perfect beef Wellington and some outstanding curries.
  • Sometimes he just likes to fuck with people.

After the jump: a statement from Turman.

Here’s what Turman has to say for himself:

I bring a unique perspective to law enforcement on the issues of training, cultural competencies, secure communities, and creative means of providing resources in tough budgetary times through my hands-on experience working alongside members of law enforcement, understanding police procedure, and creating avenues for community involvement. After growing up in a community with a strong police presence, and going on to serve as a federal prosecutor, I’ve had both positive and negative experience with law enforcement, which, I believe, can be useful to the SFPD and the greater community it serves.

More than five years ago, I was pulled into and found myself involved in an extremely difficult time in another person’s life.  Unfortunately, the situation is now being used against me as a political side show. I learned through this experience to recognize potential abusive situations and seek guidance from friends and families. I can personally attest to the fact that when domestic violence is inflicted upon you, you must endure one of the most complex and emotional issues that the legal system deals with and that there are many sides to a story. As I stated before, I’ve done nothing wrong and these allegations are false. No prosecution or disciplinary action has ever been leveled because I am innocent. The District Attorney’s Office and the State Bar of California never filed any charges against me in this matter from years ago demonstrates that these claims were and are without merit.

As a Black, gay employment lawyer — active in my community, and committed to equality and justice — I am confident that the support I’ve received from my many communities, and many city leaders, can speak to my character, qualification, and longtime dedication to San Francisco, and will serve me well should I have the privilege of being appointed to the Police Commission.