United States

Jeff Adachi Receives Posthumous Award for Work as SF Public Defender

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who died suddenly earlier this year, has been posthumously awarded a prestigious national racial justice award, the Public Defender's Office announced Monday.

During this past weekend's National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts 2019 conference, which was held in Miami, Adachi was awarded the Equity Award.

Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos Martinez accepted the award on Adachi's behalf.

"Jeff Adachi spoke up for the least, the lost, the left out," Martinez said in a statement. "When he passed away, a powerful voice fell silent. Jeff exposed and attacked pervasive racial injustice. He has inspired legions of public defenders — justice warriors — to fight, to speak out and speak up, and in the process he transformed our country."

The Equity Award was created in 2017 to recognize individuals who work to advance equality.

Adachi was nominated for the Equity Award by the National Association for Public Defense for leading his office in its work to transform the criminal justice system. Adachi was a founding member of the NAPD, an association made up of more than 20,000 public defenders and public defense professionals throughout the U.S.

The state's only elected public defender, Adachi was first elected to the position in 2002. He was credited with advocating for the reform of the state's cash-bail system and with calling out alleged injustices happening within San Francisco's police and sheriff's departments, including allegations of abuse at the city's jails and racist text messages sent between police officers.

Adachi successor, recently appointed Public Defender Manohar Raju said, "Jeff has been a leader in the area of addressing implicit bias and it is gratifying that he is receiving this acknowledgement."

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