Tony Serra, 81, has defended Huey Newton, Sarah Jane Olson, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, and many more, and it looks as if his next case could be that of Ghost Ship proprietor/building manager Derick Ion Almena. CBS 5 confirmed with Serra's office that he's Almena's attorney, although Almena has yet to be formally charged with any alleged wrongdoing.
Varying portraits of Almena and his partner Micah Allison have been painted since the tragedy at the Ghost Ship claimed 36 lives early this month: Some have described him as a manipulative, cult-like presence bent on controlling those around him, while others simply saw him as erratic and irresponsible, wishing no particular harm to anyone.
Describing Serra and his career, CBS 5 says "Serra may be one of the most famous and colorful defense attorneys in the Bay Area." Vice, meanwhile, calls him "the Hippie Atticus Finch," and his quixotic tendencies have led him to take as few potentially winnable cases as possible. Serra is brother to Richard Serra, the renowned sculptor whose large metal installations such as "Sequence" in the new SFMOMA are nearly interactive as mazes.
While litigation surrounding the Ghost Ship disaster has yet to develop, another famed local lawyer, Oakland's John Burris, could also be involved. Burris has taken on prominent civil rights cases over the years including most famously the Oakland Riders case and has reportedly expressed an interest in representing the families of victims of the deadly fire.