San Francisco, CA— San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi will be among the featured speakers this week at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s national conference on criminal defense for the poor.

National Symposium on Indigent Defense: Looking Back, Looking Forward 2010 will be held Thursday, Feb. 18 and Friday, Feb. 19 in Washington DC. Defenders, key policymakers and representatives of justice systems across the country will converge during the two-day event to form key partnerships and explore ways to improve legal representation for indigent adults and juveniles. More than 600 public defenders, judges and elected officials are expected to attend.

On Thursday, Adachi will give a presentation on the crisis in indigent defense funding and discuss how his office has dealt with the increasing demand for legal services created by the economic recession.

Over the past year, cuts of nearly $1 million crippled the Public Defender’s office and resulted in outsourcing hundreds of cases to private attorneys due to lack of staffing. Adachi has been a vocal opponent of the budget cuts, saying that it costs the city much more to outsource cases than to have his office provide representation. Adachi’s prediction came true, with more than $3.2 million in private counsel costs being requested by the court to cover cases that the Public Defender could have handled with adequate staffing.

“I am honored to be included among the justice officials invited to speak at the Attorney General’s symposium. It is my hope that Attorney General Holder uses the force of his office and the law to help struggling public defender’s offices around the country to provide the legal representation to the poor guaranteed by the Constitution,” Adachi said.