Prominent attorney Susan B. Jordan, 67, is killed in plane crash

Attorney Susan Jordan, seen in her Oakland office in 1999, had represented medical marijuana growers and former Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olson.
(John Burgess / Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Susan B. Jordan, a prominent attorney who represented medical marijuana growers and former Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olson, was killed Friday morning in a plane crash in Utah, according to her family. She was 67.

It was unclear if Jordan, who had homes in Berkeley and Ukiah, Calif., was flying the plane.

John Austin of Boulder, Utah, also died in the crash, which occurred when the two-seater Stork airplane hit power lines near Escalante in the southern part of the state, said Becki Bronson, a spokeswoman for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department.

FOR THE RECORD:An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Austin’s hometown as Boulder, Colo.

Jordan was born Susan Merle Borkan in Chicago in 1941 and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1963. She worked briefly as a copy writer for Glamour magazine in New York City before earning a master’s degree at Yeshiva University in 1965 and teaching in the city.

She volunteered to register voters in Mississippi, which sparked her interest in the law, according to a 1999 interview with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “I really admired the lawyers who were engaged in the civil rights movement. . . . I knew then that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.

She earned her law degree at Northwestern University in 1970 and began working for the Community Legal Counsel before going into private practice.

Jordan relocated to San Francisco in the early 1970s and worked on several landmark cases, including the retrial of Inez Garcia, a Monterey County rape victim who had been convicted of killing one of her attackers. Garcia was acquitted in 1977 after Jordan argued that she had acted in self-defense.

Jordan also defended Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, in a highly publicized case. Olson was accused of conspiring to kill Los Angeles police officers and eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing explosives with the intent to murder. After serving seven years in California, Olson was released earlier this year to serve parole in Minnesota, where she had spent more than 20 years in hiding.

Jordan had recently represented the Ukiah Cannabis Buyers Club.

In addition to her legal career, Jordan was an accomplished pilot. She chafed that there were few women in the cockpit in the early 1960s, according to her former college roommate, Roslyn Banish.

“She could always see the boundaries and strove to overcome them,” Banish said.

Jordan is survived by her husband, Ronald C. Wong; a daughter, Jennifer Jordan Wong; a sister, Lois Morris of New York; and a brother, Eugene Borkan of Portland, Ore.

Funeral arrangements were pending.