Jeff Adachi, San Francisco's Public Defender, Wins 71 Percent of Domestic Violence Trials

Categories: Law & Order
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A convincing man
Jeff Adachi might not have convinced voters to pass pension reform last year, but he is certainly proving he's good at persuading juries in the courtroom.

A new report suggests that the public defender won 48 percent of his cases last year -- an increase for the third year in a row.

Of the 168 cases that went to trial last year, Adachi's clients were found guilty 30 percent of the time while juries acquitted defendants 36 percent of the time. The report shows that 12 percent of trials ended in hung juries and 22 percent were mixed verdicts.

Those figures exclude the 700 felony cases that were dismissed last year because of the crime lab scandal.

Adachi said the numbers -- which represent combined felony and misdemeanor cases -- show that public defenders are outperforming prosecutors in the courtroom.

"Clearly, we are bringing the right cases to trial," Adachi said.

Other highlights in the report show that Adachi won 71 percent of domestic violence trials, which is surprising, considering how many resources former District Attorney Kamala Harris devoted to prosecuting domestic violence cases in San Francisco.

But Adachi said that there is a tendency to overcharge in domestic violence cases -- and clearly San Francisco juries agree.

"You don't often hear about acquittals -- you read in the newspaper about arrests and cases where people are convicted," Adachi told SF Weekly. "It's important for people to see that innocent people are charged with crimes and that a jury trial is sometimes the only means of exonerating oneself."

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