Jeff Adachi sworn in to fifth term as SF public defender

Public Defender Jeff Adachi was sworn in to his fifth term in office on Tuesday as the top public official of San Francisco charged with defending the indigent in court.

Mayor London Breed administered the oath of office to Adachi, who has served as the elected public defender of San Francisco since 2003, during a ceremony at the Public Defender’s Office near the Hall of Justice.

Public officials from District Attorney George Gascon to former Public Defender Jeff Brown, who served five terms prior to Adachi, watched the ceremony alongside defense attorneys from the office.

Adachi, who himself obtained not guilty verdicts last month for a man charged with murder and manslaughter after a years-long battles in court, praised his office for offering supportive services to defendants outside the courtroom and for being one of the most diverse in the state.

“We’re going to continue to provide the highest level of representation, but not only that, we’re going to ensure that the programs that we have promised, that we created even years ago, will continue to serve the communities that need that support,” Adachi told the audience.

In 2004, the Public Defender’s Office created the MAGIC program to support children in low-income communities, which is still run today in the historically black Bayview and Fillmore neighborhoods.

Breed said Adachi helped her pass legislation last year when she served as president of the Board of Supervisors that abolished criminal justice fees for defendants. The fees were seen as locking defendants in cycles of poverty and preventing them from leading productive lives.

“I’m looking forward to working with him on some additional reforms that I know are hopefully going to put all public defenders out of business,” Breed said at the ceremony.

The mayor, who grew up in Western Addition public housing, said she has known Adachi since he walked around the neighborhood looking for clients when she was not yet an adult. Adachi has been with the office for 33 years.

Adachi said the Public Defender’s Office will celebrate its 100th year in 2021.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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