Public Defender, Chief Attorney Earn Top Honors

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San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has been named Defender of the Year by the California Public Defenders Association, while Teresa Caffese, chief attorney for the Public Defender’s office, has been honored by the Daily Journal as one of the state’s top 100 women litigators.

Adachi will receive the award during the CPDA annual convention, held May 14-15 in Palm Springs.

Defender of the Year is bestowed upon an attorney who exemplifies the highest ideals of a public defender and is dedicated to the principle that indigent clients are deserving of well-funded, competent legal representation, according to CPDA President Bart Sheela.

With more than 4,000 members, CPDA is the largest statewide criminal defense organization in the country.  It offers continuing education opportunities for California public defenders and legislative advocacy to protect individual rights and liberties and to ensure criminal justice procedures remain fair and workable.

Sheela noted that the selection was based on Adachi’s “courageous and inspirational work on behalf of public defenders across the state and the nation.”

Judges for the statewide honor took into account Adachi’s work in presenting the annual San Francisco Justice Summit, leadership in making public defender budgetary issues accessible to the public and his defense of fellow public defenders in Baltimore who were fighting for their survival after the Maryland Public Defender was fired for protesting budget cuts. Adachi’s work is currently featured in the May issue of California Lawyer magazine.

“I am grateful and humbled by this award.  I have been extremely fortunate to benefit from the support and guidance of CPDA over the years and this award will inspire me and my colleagues to continue to work even harder to realize America’s promise equal justice for all,” Adachi said.

It is the second award garnered this week by the San Francisco Public Defender’s office. Chief Defender Teresa Caffese, whose 23-year career is marked my numerous courtroom victories, was honored by the Daily Journal as one of the top 100 women litigators in the state.

“It’s an honor to be chosen again as one of the top women litigators in California,” Caffese said. “I hope my work is emblematic not only of my high standards but also the incredibly tremendous work our office does every day on behalf of indigent defendants.”

Caffese secured several high-profile acquittals last year, including a domestic violence victim who stabbed her estranged boyfriend in self-defense after he violated a restraining order.