News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Mourns San Francisco Public Defender and NACDL Board Member Jeff Adachi

Washington, DC (Feb. 23, 2019) - The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is extremely saddened by the loss of San Francisco Public Defender and NACDL Board Member Jeff Adachi. Mr. Adachi passed away late yesterday at the age of 59. He is survived by his wife Mutsuko and his daughter Lauren.

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jeff Adachi," said NACDL President Drew Findling. "Jeff's commitment to fighting for the rights of marginalized communities and those most in need was limitless. While recognized as a leader in San Francisco, many should know that he made this important work a nationwide effort. And for that, all of us at NACDL are deeply indebted to him."

"Jeff was a passionate and devoted defense attorney," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "He was an eloquent spokesperson for his clients, his community, and the cause of justice. He brought an important and informed perspective to NACDL's Board of Directors and embraced his role as a leader within the nation's criminal defense community. I will forever remember the joy and pride he exuded last month when he accepted NACDL's Champion of Public Defense Award on behalf of the office he guided so expertly for their work in promoting bail reform. This is a huge loss for all of us."

"Jeff was a leader and giant in the public defense community," said NACDL Immediate Past President Rick Jones. "A tireless crusader for racial and economic equity, he was never afraid to speak truth to power. Jeff lived a purpose-filled, consequential life and will be sorely missed."

Jeff Adachi served as elected Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco since March 2002, the only elected public defender in California. The San Francisco Public Defender's Office serves more than 23,000 clients a year. Mr. Adachi was elected to a three-year term on NACDL's Board of Directors in August 2016. Mr. Adachi has received numerous local, state and national awards, including the Society of Professional Journalist's Public Official Award, American Bar Association Hodson Award for Public Service, SPUR Good Government Award, and California Public Defender's Association Program of the Year Award. Last month at NACDL's Race Matters II conference in Los Angeles, Mr. Adachi accepted NACDL's Champion of Public Defense Award on behalf of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office for its extraordinary efforts challenging pretrial release practices in the state of California.

Mr. Adachi graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1985 and attended undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley.

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Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.