Following the unexpected passing of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi more than two weeks ago, Mayor London Breed has selected Deputy Public Defender Manohar Raju to take his place.
During a ceremony at City Hall on Monday, Breed announced Raju as her pick to lead the office.
"Mano has the commitment, the experience and the vision to lead this office and fight for those who need a voice both in the courtroom and in the community," Breed said.
"I look forward to partnering with Mano on what I know are going to be some great policies," she said. "I know that we are never going to be able to replace Jeff Adachi but we can build on his legacy and I am confident that we have someone who is committed to doing just that."
Raju said, "Being a public defender is a calling for me. It is a calling rooted in the spirit and resiliency of our clients and their families. It's also rooted in the staff of our office, it's also rooted in the communities in this city."
He said, "I'm different than Jeff, so there will be some changes. But the core of what we do, the mission, that's not going anywhere. We are going to renew and recharge our commitment to excellence for our clients, we
are going to continue broader reform efforts. We are going to continue to protect the public against overreaching and government abuses. We are going to continue our struggle for racial justice in this city and statewide, and we are going to deepen our empowering engagement with the communities we are serving.
"Those are the core values of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. Jeff embodied those values and his fight will continue to live through us," he said.
Matt Gonzalez, the public defender's office chief attorney, also spoke at Monday's event.
"I've never been concerned about this transition, of course losing Jeff was a big loss to our office. It's not one that we'll quite ever get over," Gonzalez said. "Mano is just a fantastic choice and I could not be happier with this decision.
"He understands the work of the public defender has to be rooted in the community. I've seen him prepare cases for trial and work with the community and I know that he's going to do a terrific job carrying on Jeff's legacy," Gonzalez said.
Before his appointment, Raju managed the public defender's office's felony division. He first began working as a public defender in Contra Costa County 18 years ago and has working in San Francisco for the past 11 years.
Raju will serve as public defender until this November's election, when voters will decide whether to choose him to serve the remaining three years of Adachi's term.
San Francisco's public defender is the only one in California to be voted into office.
Adachi, 59, served as public defender since 2002 until he passed away on Feb. 22 after having dinner with a friend in the city's North Beach neighborhood. Foul play has been ruled out in the death.