Tony Serra 2

City Lights hosts Tony Serra as he celebrates the release of his debut novel, The Scaffold: A Treason Death Penalty Trial, published by Grizzly Peak Press.

Beginning with an outline as a young lawyer around 1960 and finally completed in prison as a tax resister, 50 or so years later, J. Tony Serra presents his first novel, The Scaffold: A Treason Death Penalty Trial. The story takes  place during the Second World War in the South Pacific with U.S. P.T. Boats and Japanese zero attack planes juxtaposed against an island paradise. At the center is a court martial trial filled with Serra’s legal career experiences but also an example of life as absurdity. All aspects of living are viewed as metaphors of absurdity. Intellectual discourse is explored as an expression of the Theater of the Absurd. The message is: war is absurd; treason is absurd; the death penalty is absurd and platonic love is humanity’s only redemption.

A native son of San Francisco, Tony Serra has dedicated his life to defending society’s outcasts.  After hearing a Philosophy degree from Stanford University, Serra went on to graduate from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in the 1960s, an era he calls “the golden age of law.”  In his more than 45 years of practice, Serra has helmed a number of noteworthy cases, including Huey Newton, Bear Lincoln, Chol Soo Lee, the Hell’s Angels, Hooty Croy, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the White Panthers, Bari & Cherney v. FBI and more. Serra has been honored with awards from, among others, NORML, ACLU, American Lawyer Magazine, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. Although he has been admitted to practice in 45 separate federal and state jurisdictions in 28 different states, Serra still calls San Francisco home. His first two books are Walking The Circle and Tony Serra published by Grizzly Peak Press.

An Evening with Tony Serra

Tony_SerraTony Serra recently came by City Lights to read from his new memoir, Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer. What followed was an entertaining, educational, and emotional evening as one of San Francisco’s most luminary intellectuals talked about his life, his work, and his passion.

Tony Serra is a life long civil rights activist and attorney. He is the epitome of a counter-cultural hero. He has spent his life defending society’s marginalized citizens in the courtroom. His role in the Chol Soo Lee case was depicted in the film True Believer and he has gained national prominence for his closing argument techniques. Mr. Serra has consulted with hundreds of professional organizations on various legal issues in multiple forums in 14 different states. He is a life-long tax resister who has spent time in federal prison in protest of what he perceives to be an unjust political and legal system.Serra has served the community as a practicing criminal defense attorney for over 45 years. He has represented: Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, The White Panthers, The Hell’s Angels, Chol Soo Lee, Hooty Croy, Brownie Mary, Bear Lincoln, and many others. He is the recipient of numerous awards that include: ACLU Benjamin Dreyfus Civil Liberties Award, Gideon Equal Justice Award from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Lawyer of the Year from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, as well as numerous others.

Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer is available from Grizzly Peak Press.

Tony Serra discussing Walking the Circle: Prison Chronicles

Tony Serra came to City Lights Bookstore the evening of September 26th, 2012, and spoke of his new book, Walking the Circle: Prison Chronicles (Grizzly Peak Press).

Walking the Circle: Prison Chronicles

from Grizzly Peak Press

Tony Serra is the epitome of counter-cultural hero. He has spent his life defending society’s marginalized citizens in the courtroom. His role in the Chol Soo Lee case was depicted in the film True Believer and he has gained national prominence for his closing argument techniques. Mr. Serra has consulted with hundreds of professional organizations on various legal issues in multiple forums in 14 different states. He is a life-long tax resister who has spent time in federal prison in protest of what he perceives to be an unjust political and legal system. His recent stay in Lompoc Federal Prison Camp yielded the release of this new book that sheds light on the conditions prevalent in the prison system. Not one to be content with fighting for a more civil and just society only in the court-room, Tony Serra has taken the fight to the front-lines. His examination and criticism of the prison system complex adds to the ongoing dialog for prison reform.

J. Tony Serra has been a practsing criminal defense attorney for over 45 years. He has represented: Heuy Newton and the Black Panthers, The White Panthers, The Hell’s Angels, Chol Soo Lee, Hooty Croy, Brownie Mary, Bear Lincoln, and many others. He is the reciepient of numerous award that include: ACLU Benjamin Dreyfus Civil Liberties Award, Gideon Equal Justice Award from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Lawyer of the Year from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, as well as numerous others.

What has been said about Walking the Circle: Prison Chronicles:

A life filled with passion, trouble, and general shit-kicking may be the best life to have, but probably only if you are Tony Serra, wily defense lawyer, generous supporter of perilous causes, devoted custodian of just about everyone except himself. Recently, he continued his mission of disruptive merry-making while ioncarcerated fora little matter of federal taxes he decided not to offer a federal government he considers hostile to the poor, immigrants, Native Americans, and folks who enjoy a bit of inner transportaion by means of forbidden substances. In the matter of Tony Serra vs. the System, the conflict has gone on for more than forty years.” -Herb Gold

Tony Serra’s Walking the Circle: Prison Chronicles, is a wonder, as is the author. Not since Clarence Darrow has a trial lawyer attracted such envious attention in court, Nt since Byron has there been a more poetic, passionate defender of liberty. Tony’s book almost akes you want to spend time in jail.” -John Keker, Esq.