FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2023
CONTACT: PubDef-MediaRelations@sfgov.org | PIO Valerie Ibarra (628)249-7946
Re-Elected SF Public Defender Mano Raju Sworn In at Community Ceremony and Black History Month Celebration
SAN FRANCISCO – Mano Raju was sworn in for a four-year term as San Francisco Public Defender at a community event celebrating Black History Month in the Bayview last night. Raju, who was re-elected in November, is the only elected Public Defender in California. The event was co-hosted by the Racial Justice Committee and the Black, Latinx, and API Affinity Groups of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and attended by special guest speakers and performers, including District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, President of the SF Police Commission Cindy Elias, and John “Yahya” Johnson of the popular “Ear Hustle” podcast, who administered the oath of office.
“I have been told by many across the country who have seen our innovations and accomplishments over the last few years that we are the gold standard for a public defender’s office, but what I want to pledge to you is that I am not content,” said Raju. The work we do is too vital, too impactful, and too far-reaching to not continually seek to do it more efficiently, to do it bigger, and to do it more boldly.”
“I can say that Black lives matter to Mano and Black people matter to Mano,” said Jacque Wilson, managing attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender’s office’s Misdemeanor Unit and chair of its Black Affinity Group, commending the increased diversity of people in leadership positions. “Since Mano has been the Public Defender, he has appointed Black people into leadership roles in almost every unit of our office I can think of. Key faces in key places, and that makes a difference.”
“Mano has always been involved in our allied struggles because he believes and understands that the issues that we are always facing at 850 Bryant or any of the other courts, have deep seeded roots in the lack of housing, education, and employment-related matters” said Carmen Sanchez, a social worker in the Immigration Unit, who also lauded the class action lawsuit Raju approved which helped liberate hundreds of people from ICE detention centers during the pandemic.
“I find it disconcerting that in America you’re innocent until proven guilty, so why is it then that the resources for public defenders are not commensurate with the offices that prosecute?” said John “Yahya” Johnson, Co-Producer of “Ear Hustle” podcast, who administered the community oath to Raju, spoke about the need for more resources for public defenders who operate on significantly smaller budgets than district attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and prisons.
Raju spoke about numerous achievements of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office over the past three years – including increasing the economic and racial diversity of juries via the Be The Jury compensation program; successfully pressing the Police Commission to pass a policy that curtails racially-biased traffic stops by police, reuniting families through resentencing with state funding for the Freedom Project; establishing the groundbreaking Adachi Project using art and film to elevate the voices of those impacted most by the criminal legal system; expanding the capacity of the Clean Slate team that helps clean up criminal records; and instituting a modern leadership structure.
Raju was a felony manager and director of training when he was appointed to lead the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office in 2019 after the sudden passing of longtime Public Defender Jeff Adachi. Raju subsequently won his election in November 2019 to fulfill the rest of Adachi’s term, and recently won re-election in November 2022 to a full four-year term.
The event streamed on San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Facebook live.