Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender

Key Stats

  • Birthday: 8/29/1959
  • Juris Doctor: Hastings College of the Law, 1985
  • Years in Office:
    Deputy Public Defender (1986-1998)
    Chief Attorney (1998-2001)
    Public Defender (March 2001-present)

Bio Pic

Contacting Jeff

If you would like to speak with Jeff, please contact Angela Auyong, Executive Assistant to the Public Defender, at 415-553-1677. If you are media and would like to schedule an interview with Jeff, please contact Tamara Aparton, Communication and Policy Assistant, at 415-575-4390 or via email at

© Kim Komenich/The Chronicle

© Kim Komenich/The Chronicle

Jeff Adachi is the Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco. Before being elected as Public Defender in March 2002, Mr. Adachi worked as a deputy public defender in San Francisco for 15 years and in private practice for 2 years. From 1998-2001, he served as the Chief Attorney of the office. He has tried over 150 jury trials, including numerous serious felony and homicide cases, and has handled over 3,000 criminal matters throughout his career, including some of the Bay Area’s highest profile cases.

As the only elected Public Defender in the state of California, and one of few elected public defenders in the United States, Mr. Adachi oversees an office of 93 lawyers and 60 support staff. The office represents over 23,000 people each year who are charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. The office provides a panoply of innovative programs to its clients, including Drug Court, Clean Slate expungement services, and a full-service juvenile division. The office also has one of the country’s top intern programs for law students and graduates.

Mr. Adachi served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and is a member of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is the co-author of Chapter 25: Immunity for Testimony, in the California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice book, and a past board member of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the San Francisco Bar Association. He is a past president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area and the San Francisco Japanese American Citizen’s League. He has been a certified criminal law specialist since 1991. Mr. Adachi has also taught with BAR/BRI bar review for 15 years and has published five books on passing the bar exam.

In 1992, Mr. Adachi received the California State Bar Association’s Hufstedler Award for public service. In 1997, Mr. Adachi received the Asian American Bar Association’s Joe Morozumi Award for exceptional legal advocacy, and in 2003, was honored by the Asian American Bar Association of the Silicon Valley. In 2000, Mr. Adachi received the Mayor’s Fiscal Advisory Committee’s Managerial Excellence Award. In 2006, Adachi received the California Public Defender Association’s Program of the Year Award, and in 2007, the American Bar Association’s national Dorsey award for excellence in public defense. In 2007, Adachi was the recipient of the prestigious California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award (CLAY) for his work in the field of prisoner reentry. In April 2009, Mr. Adachi received a second California Public Defenders Association Program of the Year Award for the office’s innovative Children of Incarcerated Parents program. In May 2010, Mr. Adachi was honored with the 2009 Defender of the Year award from the California Public Defenders Association. In December 2012, Mr. Adachi received the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Reginald Heber Smith Award for outstanding achievement and dedicated service. In 2013, he was honored with the San Francisco Lawyers Club’s Access to Justice Award and named Elected Official of the Year by Vanguard Court Watch. In 2014, his office’s Legal Educational Advocacy Program was honored with a Good Government Award by the civic planning organization SPUR and the City and County of San Francisco and named Program of the Year by the California Public Defender’s Association.

Mr. Adachi graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1985 and attended undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley. He serves on the Board of Directors of  Cal Humanities and the California Public Defenders Association. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Mutsuko and daughter Lauren.