San Francisco Public Defender

National Legal Aid and Defender Association honors Adachi

KPFA Evening News, 12.09.2012


San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi KPFA Evening News Anchor David Landau: Late last week, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi was in Chicago to accept the Reginald Heber Smith Award for defending the poor from The National Legal Aid and Defender Association. Adachi fell out of favor with the San Francisco city workers' unions when he championed pension reform, but he remained a hero to San Francisco's most disadvantaged communities, who are served by the Public Defender's office. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Jeff Adachi has been San Francisco's Public Defender since defeating Willie Brown appointee Kimiko Burton-Cruz to win the office by a 10% margin in 2002. He has since been re-elected twice, running unopposed both times. The National Legal Aid and Defender Association officials wrote that, under his guidance, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office has become a top notch criminal defense firm that wins 50 percent of all cases taken to trial, a very high rate for a Public Defender's office.
Adachi has told KPFA, in previous conversations, that his parents and grandparents' internment during World War II, for the crime of being Japanese Americans, motivated him to do social justice work. He is well known for his innovative programs to keep people out of the criminal justice system and help them rejoin society despite criminal convictions.  
The San Francisco Bay View Newspaper endorsed Adachi in the 2011 San Francisco mayor's race and Bay View Editor Mary Ratcliff was thrilled to learn he'd won this award for defense of the poor. Here's Mary Ratcliff: 
Mary Ratcliff: Well, the Black community loves Jeff Adachi because he uses his authority not only to defend people as vigorously as the best private defense lawyer but to solve the problems that lead to the huge racial imbalance in prison. He recognizes the school-to-prison pipeline and uses his office to stop it by handing out thousands of backpacks full of school supplies in poor neighborhoods every year. He holds book fairs and science fairs and he even holds a prom where the youngsters get their gowns and suits for free. And that encourages pride. It encourages high aspirations.
KPFA: That was San Francisco Bay View Editor Mary Ratcliff on San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi's award for defense of the poor. 
For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.  
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