March 16, 2009

CA: p.d. can fight city hall

Longtime blog readers know that I think San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi is pretty damn cool. Still, it's always worth considering contrary views, like this one from Ken Garcia at the Examiner:

Public defender’s grandstanding masks office issues

Politicians grandstanding in public will almost certainly attract headlines. To that end, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has been a busy man as of late.

Adachi claims he wants money — not necessarily more scrutiny — which makes his recent actions rather curious, because some stunts have been known to be dangerous to your health...


Anonymous said...

Ken Garcia is our local cuddly right-wing (relative to SF) pundit. He loves to just say stuff that is either not true, poorly sourced, or mentioned as some aside by some random aid of the mayor, which goes in his pieces as "officials widely agree" blah blah blah. For instance I bet he is getting his budget numbers from the mayor's office or local rep Sean Elsbernd, who definitely have horses in this race. They dislike Adachi b/c of political squabbles over gang injunctions and criticism of the Mayor for being too cuddly with the police union and slashing funding for police oversight. They have decided to conduct a full audit of his office (unheard of) because he had the audacity to request money for two more paralegals. Oh No! Not two more paralegals! It appears Ken is their latest mouthpiece.

What he is overlooking is those "marginal" cases these guys are taking to trial, they are winning a lot of them. So really, whose fault is that? The DAs who actually want to try .07 and .06's as full blown DUIs (not making that up, in fact I saw them try and prosecute a .05 once) or the PDs whose job it is to represent their clients to the best of their ability? Ken needs to look at the marching orders SF DAs are getting from their bosses, such as "Ivan the terrible" as they call him down at the Hall of Justice.

Faulting a PDs office for taking too many cases to trial just shows a lack of understanding of how the system works, in my opinion. And citing a case that gives PDs more leeway to refuse clients is an argument for increasing their funding, not decreasing it. Furthermore outsourcing to private firms not only does cost more, but it results in inferior representation and a motivation for attorneys to plea their clients out rather than take their cases to trial. Sacramento did a study on this a little while ago when they were dealing with the same problem (felony caseloads of 250+ a year) and found that a fully funded PDs office was far superior and more cost effective than any alternative.

kathy a. said...

the examiner is closer to a supermarket checkout tabloid than a real newspaper, these past few years -- except, i don't think they've persuaded very many supermarkets to carry them. they bought the name of the paper, but not any sense of reporting responsibility.

the budget crisis in california is real. i admire adachi for holding true to the obligation to represent clients as best they can.

and wtf about prosecutors arguing the s.f. public defenders ought to plead more cases out? decisions about pleas belong with defendants, not their lawyers. it's right there in the constitution, alongside the right to counsel, the right to due process, the right to a fair trial, the right to present a defense.