July 11, 2023

Media Contact: PubDef-Mediarelations@sfgov.org


SF Public Defender’s Office Rebukes Supervisor Dorsey’s Attack on Due Process and Immigrants

SAN FRANCISCO – On July 11, 2023, San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey announced during a Board of Supervisors meeting that he was submitting a letter to the Budget and Legislative Analyst requesting an inquiry into the eligibility of taxpayer-funded legal counsel by our Public Defender’s Office for people accused of drug sales. Dorsey based his inquiry on anecdotal and unverified information shared in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article. The Public Defender’s Office issues the following statement in response to Dorsey’s inquiry:

Dorsey’s inquiry alone is a waste of taxpayer resources, and an insult to the due process legal protections laid out in the U.S. Constitution. The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office proudly provides high-level representation to over 20,000 indigent and low-income individuals every year. We handle 70% of the cases prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, but receive less than 60% of the funding. We stand by our charter and our mandate to provide legal services and protect the rights of those accused of crimes. 

Many of the people we represent, including those accused of drug possession and sales, are homeless or living in SROs or grouped in squalid living conditions. Our clients who are trapped in the exploitative street-level drug trade are indigent, and false claims to the contrary fan the flames of racism and xenophobia. We know for a fact that most of the drugs smuggled into the U.S. are brought in by U.S. citizens, and both Dorsey’s presumptions and the Chronicle’s reporting are biased, misleading, and ill-informed



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