Monday, June 01, 2009

Public defender as hero?

Very few of our local officials get this kind of treatment from local lefty artists. Doug Minkler has been churning out collectible posters for worthy progressive causes for years. I was a little surprised to notice one of his instantly recognizable efforts supporting our elected Public Defender's campaign to keep his department intact through the current budget catastrophe.

But I should not have been so surprised. Jeff Adachi does his job with determination and integrity. His office's indigent clients are "presumed guilty" (as a TV documentary by that name asserted some years ago). They are the unfortunate dregs of the criminal justice system, but the PDs give them the best lawyering the department's allocated pittance can buy.

And Adachi is a gutsy guy. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, despite being in the middle of an election season, I heard him warn that racial profiling of Muslims, Arabs and South Asian immigrants risked repeating the injustices his people suffered during the World War II era Japanese internment. That was not a popular thought then, or perhaps now.

According to today's Chronicle,

It appears Adachi's office will take a $1.9 million hit, equal to 10 or 11 lawyers, according to a City Hall source.

That's a big hit when you are running on fumes.

Googling about for this post, I learned something I hadn't known about San Francisco's Public Defender. He makes movies. Check out this interview for a delightful excursion into local Asian American history


sfmike said...

Adachi is easily my favorite public servant in San Francisco. Ran into him at a protest last week in Civic Center and asked if he was still going to the new Community Court that Newsom had set up to further criminalize the poor. "Every day," he replied, and I told him I'd get over there to document him and the place soon.

Darlene said...

Jack Soo is a wonderful comedian. I always loved watching him work.

Everything in California is going to be cut now. How will the poor survive?

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