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Monday, June 1, 2009

Mayor Slashes Public Defender's Budget -- Despite Adachi's Extremely Public Campaign To Avoid Cuts

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 4:10 PM

click to enlarge Public Defender Jeff Adachi sticks to his guns - RICHARD BUI
  • Richard Bui
  • Public Defender Jeff Adachi sticks to his guns
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi tested out the old maxim about the squeaky wheel, hoping a preemptive publicity campaign would save his office from the city-wide cuts in next fiscal year's budget. But there's no grease left in this city. Instead, he was knocked down just the same in the proposed budget released by the Mayor today.

Adachi says the proposed a $1.9 million dollar cut to the office will require him to cut 12 to 15 attorneys from his roster of 93, and drop representation of up to 6,000 clients in the next year. Since legal representation is a constitutionally protected right, those cases would have to be referred to private counsel on the city's tab.

"The Mayor's proposed budget cut is shortsighted because it will cost the city millions more in the long run," Adachi stated in a press release. "I estimate the cost of outsourcing these cases to private attorneys at between $3 to $4 million per year, which is more than the $1.9 million the city would save by cutting our budget."

Adachi says there are  also hidden costs of cutting his staff, including "trial delays, extended incarceration, appeals, and even costly lawsuits brought by the wrongfully convicted."

Of course, some of Adachi's skin might be saved by the Board of Supervisors, who have a month to make changes to the budget. Adachi will be attending the supe's meetings on June 18 and June 25 to argue for just that, as he has been doing on radio stations, newspapers, posters featuring Adachi in a 49ers jersey, and old-fashioned handbilling over the past months. The public defender  has also been grabbing headlines and airtime for personally staffing Newsom's pet project, the Community Justice Center, after he was reportedly not provided the two additional attorneys he claims were originally promised to handle the court.

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Lauren Smiley

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