San Francisco – Months of budget battles came to an end Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors voted to restore $650,000 to the Public Defender’s Office. The restoration is in addition to $300,000 that the Budget and Finance Committee voted to allocate to the office last month.
“I am very pleased that the Board voted to partially restore our budget,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi said. “In the end, we were able to make our case that equal justice for all San Franciscans matters.”
During discussion on Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s motion to restore the Public Defender’s budget, members of the board expressed their strong support for providing equal access to justice and indicated their willingness to consider a supplemental funding request later in the year.
Over 300 supporters, representing numerous community-based organizations and wearing t-shirts printed with the words “Save the Public Defender’s Office,” packed into the Board chambers and two overflow rooms in a show of support for restoring the office’s budget. The office initially faced a $1.9 million cut, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
“We were overwhelmed by the level of community support we received. We are grateful to everyone who turned out to support us and for the vital services they provide to our clients everyday,” Adachi said.
Adachi expects that he will still have to turn away cases to the private bar and will be reviewing the impact of these cuts over the next few days.
The Public Defender’s Office has already reduced its staff by ten.