Private detective and attorney Jack Palladino is shown here visiting his stepdaughter and step grandkids in Portland after beginning his shift into retirement. (Courtesy Nick Chapman)

Private detective and attorney Jack Palladino is shown here visiting his stepdaughter and step grandkids in Portland after beginning his shift into retirement. (Courtesy Nick Chapman)

Legendary SF private detective on life support after robbery in the Haight

Jack Palladino’s career went from Patty Hearst and the Hells Angels to Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein

Jack Palladino, a hard-nosed private detective known for taking on high-profile clients from Bill Clinton to Courtney Love, is in critical condition and not expected to survive after being injured Thursday afternoon during a robbery outside his home in the Haight.

Palladino, 76, an avid photographer, had just stepped outside his home near Masonic Avenue and Page Street to test out a new camera when someone tried the take it from him, according to police and his family. Palladino was pulled to the pavement and seriously injured.

He remained on life-support as of Friday night, his family said.

Palladino was known in his career for representing celebrities and sometimes dangerous clients including the Hells Angels.

Born to a working class family in Boston, Palladino moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley before founding a detective agency in the 1970s with his wife, Sandra Sutherland. His early cases included work on the Patty Hearst kidnapping and interviewing survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.

He would later help defend the auto magnate John DeLorean on drug charges before being hired to discredit sexual misconduct allegations against Clinton in the 1990s and, more recently, similar allegations against the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in 2017.

In 1999 Jack Palladino told The Examiner “I am a driven, arrogant person who holds himself and everyone around him to incredibly high standards.” (SF Examiner file photo)

In 1999 Jack Palladino told The Examiner “I am a driven, arrogant person who holds himself and everyone around him to incredibly high standards.” (SF Examiner file photo)

In a profile on Palladino from 1999, the San Francisco Examiner described him as having “built a reputation for aggressive investigations, an in-your-face style and the ability to neutralize adverse witnesses and spin hostile media.”

“I’m not a self-effacing individual,” Palladino told the Examiner at the time. “I am a driven, arrogant person who holds himself and everyone around him to incredibly high standards. I’m very difficult in private life. I don’t live for anything but this.”

Palladino cultivated a persona as a brash private detective who wore flashy suits, his stepson Nick Chapman told the Examiner on Friday.

“He was a somewhat flamboyant character at times and could be very aggressive in defense of his clients,” Chapman said.

But Palladino was also a “real human” who had just decided to retire at the beginning of the year, was reading short stories and had taken up cooking.

“The stuff I read mostly doesn’t capture the man I grew up with and who I worked for,” said Chapman, who worked under Palladino as a private detective.

“He was very passionate about justice, about democracy, about the First Amendment, about people being entitled to the best defense that they could get,” Chapman said. “And he was not blind to the limitations of our justice system.”

Police have not announced an arrest in the case. The investigation remains open.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimesan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read