adachi.jpgSan Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has won an award from a national legal organization for his work in defending accused criminals in the city, the public defender’s office announced Wednesday.

Adachi was named the winner of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s 2012 Reginald Heber Smith Award, which is handed out annually to an attorney who provides civil legal or indigent defense services.

“Jeff Adachi’s work in public defense stands as a unique testament to the power of community engagement and the ability of a defender to act as a powerful agent of social change while still providing exemplary trial defense,” NLADA president Jo-Ann Wallace said in a statement.

Adachi will accept the award on Dec. 7 during the organization’s annual conference in Chicago. The conference is kicking off a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling establishing that poor people accused of crimes were entitled to attorneys.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive an award from an organization committed to equal justice for the poor,” Adachi said in a statement. “The hardworking members of my staff share in this honor.”

Adachi is California’s only elected public defender.

Previous winners of the award, nicknamed the “Reggie,” include the chief public defender of Los Angeles County in 2008.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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