Last year, Public Defender Jeff Adachi pulled few punches in a public spat with Mayor Gavin Newsom over funding cuts for Adachi’s office, which provides, free-of-charge, the right to an attorney guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
Adachi demanded money for paralegals and lawyers; Newsom demanded Adachi trim his budget just like every other department head did. Adachi argued that budget cuts meant that private attorneys would have to be hired to cover an increasing workload and ergo cost the city more money; Newsom demanded Adachi trim his budget.
In the end, the public defender’s budget was cut by about $1 million: Adachi let some lawyers go and let some unfilled positions stay unfilled. The city spent about $3.2 million on hiring private attorneys to defend poor folk in court.
Today, Adachi will have a bully pulpit from which he can bitch about the mayor: Adachi is speaking at a national conference in Washington, DC at Attorney General Eric Holder’s request. He will give “a presentation on the crisis in indigent defense funding and discuss how his office has dealt with the increasing demand for legal services created by the economic recession,” according to a release from the Public Defender’s Office. Or put another way: he gets to tell everybody who will listen how the mayor cost the city more money through evil stupid cuts.
“I will be talking about why cutting public defender staff and outsourcing cases to private attorneys is a costly mistake,” Adachi wrote in an e-mail to The Appeal. “I was asked by the Attorney General’s office to talk about what happened in San Francisco since our budget battle was well publicized and people were curious as to how we defended our office’s staffing needs.”
We profess to know very little about the inner workings of our roommates’ politics, much less what goes on in Civic Center or on Capitol Hill. However, we can’t help but observe that in Washington, Newsom may have made himself a few enemies, giving Adachi a receptive choir indeed to which he may preach.