Monday, May 17, 2010 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — In the wake of two law enforcement misconduct scandals that have thrown thousands of criminal cases into jeopardy, the 2010 Public Defender’s Justice Summit: There Must Be Justice will be devoted to exposing and preventing every day injustice.
Experts on wrongful conviction, prosecutorial misconduct and media will join bestselling authors, law professors, reporters and celebrity attorneys on Wednesday, May 19. The free event, which is open to the public, will be held 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium in San Francisco Main Library. Seating is limited and all attendees must register at sfpublicdefender.org.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is co-hosting the summit, said the discussions would be relevant given a pair of scandals that struck at the heart of the justice system in San Francisco: A lab tech whose cocaine theft unmasked rampant evidence tampering at the Police Department crime lab and a revelation that prosecutors failed to disclose the criminal convictions and misconduct of more than 80 officers who testified in criminal prosecutions.
“There couldn’t be a better time to have a frank discussion about the everyday injustices that make it difficult for ordinary citizens to get a fair shake,” Adachi said. “Our speakers will explore how to prevent systematic failures like the ones we’ve seen in San Francisco and discuss just how commonly these miscarriages of justice occur.”
In addition to recognizing and preventing “ordinary injustice” in the legal system, panels will focus on remaking the image of defense attorneys and statewide criminal record reform. Among the speakers are Amy Bach, attorney and bestselling author of Ordinary Injustice; Gerald Schwartzbach, whose high-profile cases included the murder acquittal of actor Robert Blake; Jonathan Shapiro, writer and producer of Boston Legal and The Practice; Jami Floyd, former Court TV Anchor, John Terzano, co-founder of The Justice Project and expert on prosecutorial misconduct; and Dr. Stephen Richards, a former federal inmate-turned-law-professor devoted to re-entry issues.
The Justice Summit will also feature actor Sharon Avey, who will perform as Clara Foltz, the first “Lady Lawyer” who spent 20 years fighting for and passing the law which created the first Public Defender’s office in 1916. The Public Defender’s office will also premiere its public service address.
The Justice Summit is sponsored by the Rosenberg Foundation. Co-presenters include the California Public Defender Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the Bar Association of San Francisco. Attorneys attending the conference will earn 4 MCLE units.
To register to attend this free event and for information on additional speakers, please go to sfpublicdefender.org. Speakers will be available for press interviews from 9:00am-9:20am.