Chauncey Bailey Project

Yusuf Bey IV’s former attorney to be suspended from practice for smuggling documents

Yusuf Bey IV, with attorney Lorna Brown, speaks to the media in front of Your Black Muslim Bakery in 2005. (Oakland Tribune)
Yusuf Bey IV, with attorney Lorna Brown, speaks to the media in front of Your Black Muslim Bakery in 2005. (Oakland Tribune)

Yusuf Bey IV, with attorney Lorna Brown, speaks to the media in front of Your Black Muslim Bakery in 2005. (Oakland Tribune)

By Thomas Peele, the Chauncey Bailey Project

The former attorney for convicted triple murderer Yusuf Bey IV will be suspended from practicing law for two years after she admitted she smuggled documents out of jail for her client, including what she claimed was a love letter to a girlfriend but what turned out to be to instructions to destroy evidence, according to information released Thursday.

Lorna Patton Brown, 65, of Berkeley, will have to serve at least six months of the suspension before being eligible to reapply for a law license under a settlement reached with the State Bar Court, which adjudicates discipline cases against attorneys. The State Supreme Court still must approve the settlement agreement, reached after a lengthy investigation of the March 2010 incident.

Brown remains under investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office in connection with the incident and could face criminal charges.

Brown, a former substitute Alameda County judge, “did not tell the truth” when first questioned by District Attorney’s investigators in April 2010, according to a summary of the settlement released by the Bar Court. But she later admitted she carried documents Bey IV gave her out of the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and gave them to a member of the Bey family. They included instructions to destroy evidence in Bey IV’s pending murder trial, the documents state.

Superior Court documents also allege the papers contained a “hit list” of potential witnesses in the murder trial. The hit list allegations are not mentioned in the settlement documents.

Bey IV, the former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland, was facing murder charges in connection with the shooting deaths of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men in summer 2007. Bey IV, 25, was convicted earlier this year and is serving three consecutive life terms in prison.

Neither Brown nor her lawyer, Michael Cardoza, could be reached for comment Thursday. Neither could a spokeswoman for District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.

Brown was representing Bey IV’s father, former Oakland mayoral candidate Yusuf Bey, on child rape charges when he died in 2003. She was Bey IV’s attorney in two other felony cases when she took on his murder case following his 2009 indictment for ordering Bailey and two other men killed.

According to a declaration by District Attorney’s Inspector Kathleen Boyovivch, the documents Brown smuggled from Santa Rita Jail included a “hit list” that was passed on to Bey IV’s self-described “No. 1 soldier,” Gary Popoff, who was arrested for violating probation in March 2010. He is awaiting trial on unrelated gun charges.

The bar court documents describe Brown taking “court documents and a sealed envelope” out of the jail on March 8, 2010. She eventually told investigators that she believed the sealed envelope “contained an intimate card” Bey IV wrote to his common-law wife, Alaia Bey, also known as Tiffany Wade.

But when the papers were later found in a car Popoff was driving, the sealed envelope was discovered to contain a letter from Bey IV instructing Alaia Bey to destroy evidence in her possession, the settlement documents said.

Brown resigned as Bey IV’s lawyer in April 2010, causing a long delay in his trial after another attorney took over. Brown closed her Oakland law practice and tried, last year, to surrender her license to practice law, which the Bar Association rejected.

According to the documents, she will be eligible to apply for reinstatement after six months of suspension and paying $3,000 in administrative fees. She would then be on Bar Court probation for 18 months.

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