Friends, family gather for renaming of street named in honor of Jeff Adachi

City officials unveil Jeff Adachi Way street sign at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Members of the Public Defender’s Office pose for a photo after the unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way street sign at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
A person wears a ribbon and bracelet to honor Jeff Adachi at the unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way street sign at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Supervisor Matt Haney speaks as city officials unveil Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju speaks as city officials unveil Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
A woman looks out a window to watch the unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street and Byrant to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Rudy Corpuz with United Playaz speaks as city officials unveil Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Mutsuko Adachi speaks about her late husband as city officials unveil Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Mutsuko Adachi speaks about her late husband as city officials unveil Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Mutsuko Adachi along with Jeff Adachi’s cousin and brother unveil the Jeff Adachi Way street sign at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Mutsuko Adachi looks up at the unveiled Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor her late husband, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Mutsuko Adachi looks up at the unveiled Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor her late husband, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Matt Gonzalez, Chief Attorney for the Public Defender’s Office, Supervisor Matt Haney, Public Defender Mano Raju, Rudy Corpuz with United Playaz and Mutsuko Adachi pose for a photo with members of the Adachi family and other public defenders under the street sign after the unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Mutsuko Adachi at the unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor her late husband, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Women with the Public Defender’s Office wear T-shirts that honor the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi at the unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
The unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way street sign at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
The unveiling of Jeff Adachi Way at the former Gilbert Street to honor the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Officials with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office proudly unveiled Jeff Adachi Way on Wednesday, just over a year after the late public defender’s death.

Formerly called Gilbert Street, the street was used daily by Adachi himself since it’s located just behind the Public Defender’s Office.

The renaming of the street marks the first street in the city to be named after a Japanese American person, and aims to commemorate Adachi’s legacy and motivate all public defenders who use the alley on their way to court at the nearby Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St.

Supervisor Matt Haney, whose office helped make the new name possible, called Adachi a “hero and champion for justice.”

“I hope for that for generations, we’re able to have folks walk down the street, whether they’re residents who live here, whether they’re people who are visiting, or whether they’re attorneys with either the Public Defender’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office, to be able to look up here and see this name and be inspired to themselves stand up and fight for justice,” Haney said.

“Jeff Adachi believed that when we walked this path from the Public Defender’s Office to 850 Bryant, we’re not doing it merely to provide adequate representation, rather he built an office that would be prepared to provide warrior-level representation,” said Public Defender Mano Raju.

“Now everyday, when we walk this ground, we’ll be reminded of the sacredness of true public defender work,” Raju said. “Prayers up to you Jeff for everything you did for the public defender movement and all of our communities.”

“Friday, Feb. 22 (2019) was the worst day of my life,” Adachi’s widow Mutsuko Adachi said. “The last text I got from him was at 5:15 p.m. that evening and an hour later he was gone.”

“Jeff loved being a public defender. He was always ahead of his time,” she said.

Mutsuko Adachi also revealed that Adachi was working on a semi-autobiographical book just before his death, titled “Guardians of Justice: How Public Defenders Fight for Our Freedoms as Americans,” which she hopes to publish within the next year.

Jeff Adachi, 59, passed away on Feb. 22 due to what the city’s medical examiner’s office ruled as a drug overdose, although an independent review disputed that finding and said his death was caused by heart disease.

Adachi, the city’s first Asian American Public Defender, led the Public Defender’s Office from 2002 to 2019. He was credited with, among many other things, advocating for the reform of the state’s cash bail system and with calling out alleged injustices happening within the city’s police and sheriff’s departments, including claims of abuse at the city’s jails and racist text messages sent between police officers.

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