San Francisco, CA — Poor people facing high-stakes criminal charges in San Francisco received extraordinary legal representation in 2013, with public defenders prevailing in nearly two-thirds of felony trials, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
The numbers*, released this week as part of the San Francisco Public Defender’s 2013 Annual Report and 2014 Calendar, show that of the 64 felony trials handled by public defenders last year, 62 percent resulted in an acquittal, hung jury, dismissal, or settlement at trial. Another 12 percent of felony trials resulted in a split decision, meaning a client facing multiple charges was convicted on some counts and found not guilty on others.
Public defenders also secured an acquittal, hung jury or dismissal in 40 percent of the office’s 148 misdemeanor jury trials. Another 30 percent of misdemeanor trials resulted in a split decision.
The annual report and calendar includes full color photographs of real public defender clients and employees, taken by photographer Richard Bui, the office’s web architect. The publication was not printed at public expense and is available, free, to the public at the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, 555 Seventh Street.
Titled “Symbols of Justice,” the report features images of art and artifacts from throughout history and across the world.
“We chose this theme because although the work we do takes place in San Francisco, the concept of justice is universal, part of our shared human heritage,” Adachi said.
In 2014, the San Francisco Public Defender’s office served more than 20,000 clients who could not afford private attorneys.
Other year-end accomplishments detailed in the report:
- Public Defender staff and programs receiving a record number of honors and awards, including: providing access to justice, community activism, advancing and supporting communities of color, working to end criminalization of people with mental illness; commitment to indigent defense; and promoting self-determination and social justice among youth.
- Providing legal consultation and services to 6,387 people through the Clean Slate program and linking hundreds of clients to treatment and services through the office’s social workers and collaborative courts.
- Bringing famed death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean to San Francisco for a free talk and book signing, attended by more than 1,000 people and broadcast on SFGovTV.
- Receiving a $400,000 Department of Justice grant to create the first locally and nationally applicable checklist system to guide attorneys through critical moments in cases and prevent wrongful convictions.
- Distributing more than 4,000 backpacks and school supplies to children and providing literacy and agency support through our community-based MAGIC programs.
The entire 2013 Annual Report and 2014 Calendar can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1aBs3bM
*Numbers that appear in the annual report are based on year-end projections in order to adhere to the publication’s printing deadline. Numbers in the press release, which differ slightly, are based on final year-end outcomes.