Defender Removed from Mass Murder Case

Superior Court judge cites conflict of interest from prior case.

A Superior Court judge decided Thursday that San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi won’t represent the man arrested and charged with robbing and killing five people in a San Francisco home last week.

35-year-old Binh Thai Luc appeared in court for the second consecutive day, but his arraignment was postponed once again because Judge Lucy Kelly McCabe decided that allowing the public defender’s office to take on Luc’s case would be a conflict of interest.

Binh Thai Luc and his brother, Brian Luc, were arrested at the same time, but while Binh is facing murder charges, his brother is facing charges for narcotics, possession of ammunition and violation of probation.

The conflict of interest issue was raised yesterday when prosecutors pointed out to McCabe that the case Brian Luc is currently serving probation for was handled by the public defender.

Prosecutor Sharon Woo said that Brian Luc will probably serve as an “important witness” in the case against his brother. Woo said not only is he still a client of the Public Defender’s Office, but if those attorneys took on Binh Thai Luc’s case they could possibly use Brian’s “confidences and secrets” to help their case.

Adachi vigorously argued that Brian Luc was no longer a client of his office and Binh Thai Luc has already made his wishes clear to Adachi and the court.

“You’re saying that Mr. [Binh Thai] Luc’s choice doesn’t matter,” Adachi said to the judge. “If he wants the public defender to defend him, he has a right.”

But McCabe said, “The defendants are brothers. They lived at the same address. The people may call him as a witness. In my 25 years here, that policy that representation ended at sentencing has never been revealed to me.”

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