San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi is one busy guy. In between defending the public (28,000 miscreants or maybe not miscreants use his office for legal defense ever year) and maybe or maybe not running for mayor, he has relentlessly lobbied everyone and anyone he can find at City Hall to please please please don’t slice his department’s budget — the reason being, he has said more than once, that laying off public defenders costs the city more than it saves.
As has been written before, Adachi says his office is forced to turn away clients because his lawyers’ caseloads are all at full capacity. If the city declines Adachi’s request to spend $640,000 and hire seven more public defenders, the city ultimately has to pay $1.6 million to hire private attorneys to represent the clients. Using the spend a little, save a little more metric, he contends that spending the $640,000 would ultimately save the city over $900,000 (and $906,000 is also Adachi’s reduction target under the most recent, current, spending crunch).
Adachi’s been rebuffed before by the Mayor’s Office in his request for more lawyers, and was recently told by the Mayor’s chief of staff that he’d be again rejected. But that won’t stop Adachi from heading to the Board of Supervisors (again) today.
“We don’t control the number of cases that come to our department,” said Adachi, who said his only recourse to save money in a budget crunch is to cut staff (or move out of the offices he rents at the Hall of Justice, to, say, Golden Gate Park or Justin Herman Plaza). “It’s a pretty simple question,” he said. “Does the city want to pay $1 million more to handle these cases?”
In other words, the city has to pay one way or the other to represent these folks; why not do it cheaply?
The Appeal went to the Mayor’s Office for comment but was met with
delicious saang paneer and an emerging technology sector silence. We’ll get back at you if we hear anything.