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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doing the right thing - Public Defender Jeff Adachi refuses to cut budget

Jeff Adachi is our city's elected Public Defender and the news reports are showing that his office is refusing to cut the budget as per Mayor Gavin Newsom's request. In fact, Adachi wants an extra $1.7 million to add to his budget. By not adding funding, he is personally being the public defender for the city's Community Justice Center, a Newsom waste of tax dollars, and Adachi is doing it because his 93 lawyers are busy with their cases they handle.

Some are arguing that Adachi should resign because he needs money for his program, instead of cutting his budget. But while Adachi may be going against popular opinion in the world of city politics, I have to agree with P.D. Adachi on his move to give the finger to Gavin Newsom.

I'm going to give my view based on being an educated person and my basic knowledge of the constitution, a.k.a. the highest law of the land:

The constitution gives anyone accused of a crime the LEGAL right to a lawyer. Unfortunately, if one cannot afford a lawyer, the government is supposed to provide a lawyer at no charge to the accused. It is a basic fundamental right of this country that everyone has the right to a defense in court, and that's the need for Public Defenders, the people who help defend and protect the unfortunate people who cannot afford a private lawyer.

Jeff Adachi's office cannot take a budget cut. His office has reached a critical point where his 93 lawyers are busy with cases every single day and he has to personally defend people with "quality of life" accusations in court, then his office is working frantically at what their budget can afford.

If Newsom gets his way and Adachi cuts his budget, that means that the public defender system in our city will go haywire. In order for Adachi's office to make-up for the huge backlog of accused criminals, Adachi will have to pay for private lawyers to do the job, thereby costing more than having a public defender staff person working on the case.

Plus, we must understand that with the economy going down and unemployment going up, more people will commit crimes to get money, or the necessities they need. And when this happens, this impacts the public defenders with more cases, and the need for no cuts and possibly more money to run.

Please remember, the public defender's office has a LEGAL responsibility under the constitution to provide legal service to those who cannot afford. There may be a day when you may be accused of a crime and cannot afford a lawyer, and a Public Defender will defend and represent you in court.

With all due respects, I believe Jeff Adachi's defiance shows that Newsom cannot rule this city with his greasy slicked-back hair and should start using his brain power a little bit more, and worry less about being the next governor. Adachi should eventually consider being the mayor of our fine city.

If you did not get a chance to watch one of Adachi's popular documentaries, buy "The Slanted Screen" on DVD, and see his newest work about Jack Soo at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

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