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Memorial service for legendary tenant’s rights attorney John Murcko on Aug. 26, 2018
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at]
Wednesday Aug 22nd, 2018 3:07 AM
It was during 2007, that legendary attorney John Murcko represented his friend famed attorney Tony Serra, in a lawsuit against the federal government over slave labor practices!
Memorial service for legendary tenant’s rights attorney John Murcko on Aug. 26, 2018

By Lynda Carson — August 22, 2018

Legendary tenant’s rights attorney John Murcko passed away on May 23, 2018, and friends, tenants and local attorneys will be getting together at Bacheesos restaurant on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (2650 Telegraph Avenue) for Sunday, August 26th 5-8pm for John's memorial service, and some great Murcko stories to share.

John Murcko, an attorney for 47 years or more who loved to play the accordian and sing union songs, is originally from Passiac, New Jersey, and stated that he gained his self confidence from working with famed attorney Tony Serra for a year, or more. A member of the East Bay Tenants Bar Association, Murcko has been a pro-tenant attorney for many years, and helped to form the Eviction Defense Center (EDC) with Ira Jocobowitz, and EDC executive director, Anne Omura (attorney).

Sometime during the fall of 1994, several meetings began to take place to explore ways to find a solution to the horrifying situation of the mass evictions occurring in Oakland, and the Bay Area. A number of people became involved as founders of the Eviction Defense Center (EDC), including Ira Jacobowitz, Phil Rapier, John Murcko, Bill Simpage, David Shagam and Kenny Walton.

During that same period, Collective Legal Services being run by Katya Komisaruk and Cinthia Chandler already had a 501-3C, but, began to flounder, and a deal was made turn it over to the founders of the EDC.

Ira Jacobowitz was the first to donate a computer and other office equipment, and others donated amounts of money to get the office up and running. Hina Shah became the first managing director of the EDC, and was the one to figure out a sliding scale formula affordable to low-income renters that would be enough to keep the EDC up and running. The doors opened in February of 1995, and the immediate challenge was to find a way to reach the tenants needing legal representation in the courts.

Fresh out of Boalt Hall Law School at the ripe old age of 25, Anne Tamiko Omura joined the EDC during December of 1996 as the managing attorney for the law firm, and has been instrumental in taking the EDC to new levels of legal representation provided to the low-income renters. Anne Omura has been successful in keeping the EDC open all these years with the help of rotating attorneys including Ira Jacobowitz, Phil Rapier, John Murcko, Bill Simpage, Andrew Wolff, Jorge Aguilar, Joe Coangelo, and others.

Before the Eviction Defense Center existed, during the early 1990s Doug Norman and attorney Ira Jacobowitz used to hold weekly or bi-weekly tenant’s rights meetings downtown Oakland to help teach tenants how to fight against evictions, and how to organize rent strikes against bad landlords.

Legendary tenant’s rights attorney John Murcko.

During 1997, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “John Murcko, an attorney with the Eviction Defense Center in Oakland, said 25 residents filed suit in Oakland Municipal Court in November against East 16th Street Investors to try to force the owners to fix the safety and health problems in the building.”

"The place was not in habitable condition even before the fire," Murcko said yesterday outside the burned-out apartment building, where he had an impromptu meeting with the displaced tenants. "I have video of wires hanging down, ceilings ready to fall in, all kinds of things."

“Murcko said the situation at East 16th Street illustrates bigger problems with the enforcement of city building codes in Oakland. He said he is involved in legal action against several other landlords in East Oakland for similar situations.”

"The city building code compliance office is not doing its job, partly because they do not have enough inspectors to look into complaints," Murcko said.

It was around 2000-2001, that I sat next to John Murcko on a bus full of tenant activists on our way to protest a landlords meeting near the Mormon Temple in the Oakland hills one evening, and we had a gas singing some old union songs and protest songs along the way.

During 2000-2001, Murcko was involved in the major case to defend Oakland public housing tenant’s Pearlie Rucker, Herman Walker, Willie Lee, and Barbara Hill, against the draconian "one strike policy" of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In January, 2002, during a tenant’s rally at the Parkway Theater in Oakland, Murcko was there to speak out against a plan to end a three percent rent cap that was being switched with a CPI formula. Reportedly, Murcko, an attorney at the Eviction Defense Center, also believed that Oaklanders would bear the brunt of a "CPI pulled upward by wealthier communities in the Bay Area."

During April, 2002, according to local attorney John Murcko, who was part of the legal team to defend the innocent renters from eviction, says that many public housing renters in Los Angeles refused to sign the annual lease being used to threaten them with the one strike policy. Mr. Murcko believes that evictions are costly when fought by the renters, and that the budgets of local PHAs do not provide enough dollars for them to hire enough attorneys to evict large masses of people at the same time. Furthermore, Mr. Murcko stated that the PHAs are not required to enforce the one strike policy but were offered extra money alloted by HUD as an incentive if they enforced it. Murcko went on to state that since 911, the Bush Administration has dried up those funds and shifted them into the war effort, leaving the Oakland Housing Authority with less monetary incentive to evict. To devise strategies to fight the one strike policy, it may help to clarify the situation for those unfamiliar as to how it is defined or implemented.

It was in 2003, that many renters of the Crandall Apartments had a victory toast with attorney John Murcko after their evictions were over turned by a judges ruling. Attorney John Murcko, with assistance from attorney's Ira Jacobowitz and Anne Omura helped the renters to fight back the evictions that were threatening to make many low-income renters homeless. Landlord, Dan Lieberman, served faulty notices to the renters claiming that he was having repairs done at the property, but, failed to file for a permit or attach it to the 30 Day Notices to evict, said Murcko.

Before that, during another mass eviction case involving Murcko, Lieberman and Horizon Management Group at 7630 Lockewood St, 24 tenants were served eviction notices on July 31, 2000, between 11p.m., and midnight. Long term renters of the Lockewood Apartments believed that they faced retaliation and threats of violence from Lieberman because they refused to sign a new contract after he took over the property. A press conference was arranged for the tenants facing eviction outside of the Alameda County Court House, where tenants showed the media a home video of a man in a referee's jersey with a holster serving eviction papers to a tenant of the Lockewood Apartments.

During January 2004, attorney John Murcko helped to organize the celebration of the tenth year anniversary of the Eviction Defense Center, and proudly was the one to offer Anne Omura a beautiful Community Service Award on behalf of the East Bay Tenants Bar Association which said; To Anne Tamiko Omura, Director of the Eviction Defense Center, For Outstanding Representation of Tenants in Alameda and Contra Costa County.

Attorney John Murcko was passionate about his views; "The EDC has provided excellent defenses in Alameda County for renters against greedy and vicious landlords for the last 10 years. Anne is the best director of the EDC because she's serious about the class struggle against the landlords. In her ideology she always puts justice and housing rights before other considerations. I can only hope that Anne has many children to carry on the struggle the same way as she does", Murcko said.

During July of 2004, John Murcko spoke out against the Nuisance Eviction Ordinance, at an Oakland City Council meeting and stirred up the crowd in opposition to the unfair eviction ordinance.

And in October, 2005, Murcko helped the tenants at the California Hotel in a lawsuit against the Oakland Community Housing, Inc, for slum like conditions, including infestations of rats and bed bugs at the California Hotel. “I believe that OCHI and this property is being run by slumlords, and they are sucking the system dry,” said tenant activist Linda Stephens, who started the tenant rebellion at the property after contacting local attorney John Murcko for assistance.

“It's a terrible situation with fleas, rats, bed bugs, and bad odors coming from the vents and the floors,” Murcko said. “It's the worst infestation I have seen in the last 20 years as an attorney. OCHI received a notice last November from vector control and nothing was done.”

During May of 2007, in a case involving tenants in the Rose Hotel in San Francisco, attorney John Murcko, who represents the tenants at the Rose Hotel, said, "This hotel has serious problems with vermin and the owners do not care about the bad conditions. Also, there are problems with backed up toilets, backed up sinks, cracks in the walls, defective windows, and holes in the walls that are not being repaired. These people are very low-income, have notified management about the problems, and are not being respected."

In a different case, in a huge victory for the tenants of the California Hotel, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller ruled on Oct. 29, 2008, to keep in place a temporary restraining order against Oakland Community Housing Inc. (OCHI), stopping the corrupt nonprofit housing developer from evicting the tenants or shutting off the gas, water and electricity at the historic hotel they reside in.

According to attorney John Murcko, “The judge appointed Anne Omura of the Eviction Defense Center as a trustee to operate the California Hotel for the court, with full powers to hire a management company to manage the hotel. Ms. Omura will be allowed to rent out all 150 rooms at the California Hotel, so that there will be enough of an income coming in to properly manage and maintain the building for the current 52 low-income renters still residing there after refusing to move when threatened with eviction. “The tenants prevailed. There was no one from Oakland Community Housing appearing in court today to oppose the tenants’ needs or Judge Richard Keller’s ruling. This is a big victory for the people,” said Murcko.

Through the years legendary tenant’s rights attorney John Murcko represented many other tenants in Oakland and the Bay Area. It was during 2007, that John Murcko represented his friend famed attorney Tony Serra, in a lawsuit against the federal government over slave labor practices.

Sad to say, legendary tenant’s rights attorney John Murcko passed away on May 23, 2018, and friends, tenants and local attorneys will be getting together at Bacheesos restaurant on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (2650 Telegraph Avenue) for Sunday, August 26th 5-8pm for John's memorial service, and some great Murcko stories to share.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsule [at]

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Lynda Carson
Friday Aug 24th, 2018 3:24 PM
More information regarding attorney John Murcko...


Celebrate the Life of John Murcko – August 26th. 2018

(Attorneys John Murcko and Andrew Wolff defended renters against Hong Gardner & John Gardner)
Oakland notorious slumlords nailed by the court
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at]
Tuesday Mar 29th, 2011 9:07 PM

Tenants Seek Removal Of Superior Court Judge
by Lynda Carson (lyndacarson [at]
Tuesday Aug 26th, 2003 2:39 AM

On Wednesday morning August 20 2003, a coalition of tenants, activists, and attorney's held a press conference in front of the Alameda County Courthouse to say that they want Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Richman transferred out of Department 31.

The coalition immediately turned in a petition containing more than 2,500 signatures from renters and activists that want the judge removed, and presented the petition/signatures to Presiding Judge Harry Sheppard of Department 1, in the County Courthouse. Judge Sheppard stated that he will review the matter.

Attorney John Murcko stated, "Judge Richman does not care. He does not care about tenants. All he cares about is doing the work of the landlords, as dirty as it may be. We hope that Judge Sheppard reviews our evidence and reassigns Judge Richman to another post where Richman can no longer do harm to the tenants."

Click below for full story…

(John Murcko goes after Judge Richman for allegedly being biased - In the past, tenants protested against Judge Richman for allegedly being biased against renters.)

CASE NUMBER(S): 04-0-12448, 06-0-10688
Case number 04-0-12448
Respondent represents tenants in landlord tenant matters in Alameda County.
From in or about 2000 through 2003, respondent filed at least eight challenges for cause pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 170.8 against Judge James Richman, accusing him of being biased in favor of landlords. Richman, an Alameda County Superior Court judge was assigned to the Law and Motion Department. One case in which respondent filed such a challenge was Dan Lieberman v. Maria Galvez, Alameda County Superior Court case number 2001-29857.
On or about October 30, 2001, in the Budderman v. Crier matter. Alameda County Superior Court case number 2001-19702, respondent filed a declaration stating that on September 7, 2001, Budderman told him "Judge Richman is on his side and will always help him." He also stated that it is his understanding that Judge Richman is receiving payment from Budderman and he should open up all of his accounts to show all monies received from Marvin Budderman and his attorneys in return for his rulings to help this slumlord in the city of Oakland.
In the same case, respondent filed a declaration from Clairmont Moore. In his declaration Moore stated that he had witnessed landlord Budderman telling respondent that "Judge Richman is on his payroll and is always willing to help him out."
The challenges for cause filed in the Lieberman and Budderman cases were denied.

Protecting The Tenants From Homelessness
by Lynda Carson (lyndacarson [at]
Wednesday Feb 26th, 2003 12:53 PM

While many of the EDC attorney's speak fondly of each other and the tenants they serve, some believe that Ira Jacobowitz has been modest about his accomplishments. On the other hand, Jacobowitz believes that John Murcko has been the most prolific member of the group, and speaks fondly of David Shagam the secretary of the board who was there from the begining and during the next 4 years. Others speak highly of Phil Rapier, as others speak fondly of Bill Simpage and it's obvious that the friendships between this group reach deeply to bond them all together through the years.

Click below for full story…

(September 2005)
Welcome to the Hotel California
Tenants sue nonprofit, say that Oakland's historic California Hotel is infested with rats and bed bugs
by Lynda Carson

"I first became aware of the problems at the California Hotel on July 15, 2005," said Oakland attorney John Murcko. "Linda Stephens was the first to come in to tell me about the horrible conditions. It's a terrible situation with fleas, rats, bed bugs and bad odors coming from the vents and the floors. It's the worst infestation I have seen in the last 20 years as an attorney. OCHI received a notice last November from vector control and nothing was done."

The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Gary Lafayette on jury’s defense verdict in favor of the Oakland Housing Authority.

• December 13, 1997

• by admin

Death sentence is wrong
John Murcko Oakland
Thursday June 27, 2002

John Murcko belief about pepper spray…

(Tony Serra case with John Murcko)
U.S. District Court
California Northern District (San Francisco)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 3:07−cv−01589−MJJ

Military case involving John Murcko

(John Murcko was involved in the struggle to save the Berkeley Post Office)

Final Victory in Court! No Appeal of ‘USPS v City of Berkeley.’


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