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Friday, March 27, 2009

Nation's Public Defenders, Including San Francisco's, to Meet, Discuss Who's Getting Screwed Over the Worst

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge Public Defender Jeff Adachi has not yet mentioned growing up in an old water tank on a rubbish dump - RICHARD BUI
  • Richard Bui
  • Public Defender Jeff Adachi has not yet mentioned growing up in an old water tank on a rubbish dump
In a get-together that threatens to devolve into the legal equivalent of the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch -- "You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all 26 of us" ... "You were lucky to live in a room! We used to have to live in the corridor!" ... "Oh, we used to dream of living in a corridor! We used to live in an old water tank on rubbish dump..." -- public defenders from around the nation will gather at Stanford on Monday to discuss how difficult it is these days to be a public defender.

San Francisco's Jeff Adachi will be there; as frequent readers of this page know, Adachi's getting piled on these days. Mandated to cut his budget by 25 percent by the mayor, Adachi declined, stating that this would result in him being forced to farm out more cases to expensive private attorneys -- and sparking a nasty game of budget chicken with the mayor. Adachi hasn't sued the mayor (yet), so he may not win any pity parties among his colleagues.

Fellow panelist Bennett Brummer, former PD for Miami-Dade County did sue the state of Florida for the right to decline cases after simultaneously experiencing a 29 percent increase in cases and a $2.48 million budget cut (he won).

Other hard-luck PDs on the roster:

  • Nancy Forster, the Maryland State PD announced last year her office will no longer farm out cases to private attorneys -- as it has run out of money;

  • Mark Stephens of Knox County, Tennessee lost his motion to reject misdemeanor cases due to an exorbitant caseloads;

  • John Stuart, Minnesota's public defender, had the joy of coming up $4.7 million short and letting go of 50 attorneys. 
Sounds like a blast. Attendees are advised to behave themselves as no one can afford to defend them any longer.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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