The Man in
the Gray Hat
The formerly controversial Gene Iredale
embraces nuance and theft
INTERVIEW BY ERIK LUNDEGAARD
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANK ROGOZIENSKI
Q: Let’s start off with a couple of quotes
on your website. One is from The San
Diego Union-Tribune: “Just the mention
of Eugene Iredale’s name in courthouse
circles touches off controversy.”
A: That’s from a very old article. I’m afraid
I’m not as controversial as I used to be.
Q: What was it in reference to?
A: I handled a lot of criminal cases that
were significant cases in the federal
court, and the nature of the cases would
be such that there would be immediate
disagreement and strong feelings on both
sides of the issues.
Q: Immediate disagreement … from the
A: No, from the prosecution. For some
time, federal prosecutors were not used to
being challenged, and they felt that they
had the right to a certain deference, just by
virtue of their position as prosecutors.
Q: Are you more deferential now?
A: That article was written when I was
young— 33 or 35—and when you’re young
you think you know everything. When
you get older, you become much less
intelligent. I have a slightly different
philosophy now about how to handle
things and how to deal with people.
There was a judge that we had here
in San Diego named J. Lawrence Irving.
He was appointed by President Reagan,
and he sat on the bench for eight years;
then he resigned because, among other
things, he found the federal sentencing
guidelines inhumane and unfair. He was
a person who had a great influence on
how I perceived things. What I found
was that many times, when you can
attribute something to either malice
or misunderstanding, it’s normally
misunderstanding. I would see people
come before Judge Irving, and he was
so amiable and decent with everyone