Point Adachi: Controller's Audit of Public Defender's Office Bolsters Claim Farming Out Cases to Private Attorneys Would Cost City More

Some of you may remember the very public tête-à-tête between Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd earlier this year. Sparked by Adachi's request to hire more paralegals, Elsbernd said the public defender was “horrible” at keeping a budget, while Adachi replied that Elsbernd “has no idea what he's doing.” The spat kicked off Adachi's ongoing feud with the mayor over budget cuts and resulted in Elsbernd siccing the city controller on Adachi's office to hunt for wasteful spending.

Controller Ben Rosenfield released his audit yesterday, and it was tossed onto the desks of city officials this morning. And if Elsbernd was hoping to embarrass the public defender — that didn't happen. It could be argued that Rosenfield's report bolsters Adachi's much (much, much) repeated claim that cuts to his budget will result in cost overruns in the near future, as cases would have to be farmed out to private attorneys who earn more, work shorter hours, and insist on drawing overtime pay. (that's certainly the argument Adachi wasted no time in making via a press release — but never forget that the public defender is both a shrewd attorney and a politician). In summary, here's what the audit found: 

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