Vincent Hallinan, 95, A Crusading Attorney Who Ran For President

SAN FRANCISCO - Vincent Hallinan, a crusading lawyer and former presidential candidate whose colorful career spanned 70 years of this city's turbulent history, died early Friday.

He was 95. One of his sons, San Francisco Supervisor Terence Hallinan, said he died as a result "of the natural evolution of life."

Born the son of a cable-car conductor in the city's Mission District when it was an Irish enclave, Mr. Hallinan revealed at an early age that he was a man of broad interests, exceptional abilities and passionate political beliefs.

While a student at Ignatius College, which later became the University of San Francisco, he edited the college magazine, played on the basketball team, was captain of the football team and was the school's champion boxer.

Yet he still found time, according to his son and other sources, to collect money and guns for rebels in Ireland and India.

"His father was a labor organizer on the old Market Street Railway," Terence Hallinan said. "His grandfather left Ireland under the threat of death. He came from a long tradition of rebels."

After serving in the Navy during World War I, he returned to school for a law degree. Then he launched a legal career that included defending numerous labor and left-wing activists.

Perhaps his most famous client was waterfront labor leader Harry Bridges, who led strikes that nearly shut down the city in the 1930s. The U.S. Justice Department three times tried to deport the Australian-born Bridges, claiming he had perjured himself when swearing he was not a Communist while he took out citizenship papers years earlier.

Mr. Hallinan so fiercely defended Bridges in the nationally publicized final trial in 1950 that he was cited for contempt and given a six-month prison sentence.

"He was an ideal lawyer," says his son. "Harry Bridges went free and he went to prison."

In 1952, Mr. Hallinan was nominated as the presidential candidate for the Independent Progressive Party, which had been founded in 1947 by Henry Wallace. His running mate was Charlotta Bass. Mr. Hallinan launched his campaign with a speech at a peace rally, where he called for an immediate end to the fighting in Korea.

"Peace, economic security, equality and freedom are wrapped up in a single bundle," he said at the time.

Terence Hallinan, himself a former boxer and longtime anti-war activist, described his father as "a guy way ahead of his time."

Nor did Mr. Hallinan wait for time to catch up with him. Until six months ago, he walked the two miles daily between his home and law office, where he presided as the city's oldest practicing attorney.

Just two months ago, local newspaper columnist Herb Caen wrote: "Vincent Hallinan, the 95-year-old lion of the courtrooms, is seriously ailing at home, but I believe implicitly in his immortality."

Mr. Hallinan is survived by his wife of 60 years, Vivian, and five sons: Terence, Mathew, Patrick, Conn and Daniel.