City officials unveil ‘Jeff Adachi Way’

Jeff Adachi Way is the name of one block of a street Jeff walked every day on his way to the Hall of Justice. But considering Jeff’s legacy of making San Francisco live up to its progressive reputation in reality and leaving behind new leadership he trained – new District Attorney Chesa Boudin and two candidates on the ballot for judge, Maria Evangelista and Michelle Tong – he taught all of us to walk the walk the Jeff Adachi Way! – Photo: Kevin Epps  

New street name honors the late San Francisco public defender

by Valerie Ibarra

San Francisco – On Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, Public Defender Mano Raju, Supervisor Matt Haney, the Adachi family and community supporters of the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi unveiled the new name of the street that runs directly behind the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, “Jeff Adachi Way.” The singular block of Gilbert Street between Bryant and Brannan Streets will not only honor Adachi’s legacy, but also serve as a daily reminder and motivation to all public defenders who walk across the street to the Hall of Justice every day to fight for the rights of their indigent clients and their families.

Mano Raju, appointed and now elected to lead the Public Defender’s Office after Jeff Adachi’s tragic death, pays tribute to his predecessor at the unveiling. – Photo: Kevin Epps

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju, who was appointed and subsequently elected to the position after Adachi’s passing, said: “Jeff Adachi forged a path for so many public defenders to courageously fight for the rights of our indigent clients and stand up to the inhumane failures of the criminal legal system. This street, that we walk every day, being named after him is not just a passive tribute, but will be an active presence for all of us to continue to walk the Jeff Adachi Way in our pursuit of true justice and meaningful reform.”

“It is entirely fitting that the first street in San Francisco to be named after a Japanese American be named for Jeff Adachi, a true champion against the systems that exacerbate prejudice and poverty and in turn feed the jails.”

Supervisor Matt Haney, whose office helped pass the resolution to rename the block said, “Renaming the street that Jeff Adachi walked nearly every working day of the last 30 years is an entirely fitting tribute to his legacy. Jeff inspired multiple generations of lawyers to follow his example: to be fearless, to never waiver in the struggle for equal justice under the law,” says Supervisor Haney. “He was more than just a public defender; he was a community organizer who championed the fight to protect the vulnerable and marginalized.”

Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young, who advocated for the street to be renamed, added, “It is entirely fitting that the first street in San Francisco to be named after a Japanese American be named for Jeff Adachi, a true champion against the systems that exacerbate prejudice and poverty and in turn feed the jails.”

Supervisor Shamann Walton came to the unveiling to honor Jeff Adachi, a hero to the people of his district. Jeff was far more than a public defender. To reduce the high poverty rate and arrest rate in District 10, especially Bayview Hunters Point, Jeff focused on giving the children the resources and confidence to excel and beat the odds, founding Bayview MAGIC and later Mo’ MAGIC, making huge celebrations out of backpack and book giveaways. – Photo: Kevin Epps

Jeff Adachi began working at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office in 1987. He developed a reputation as an phenomenal trial lawyer, which led him to become the chief attorney in 1999. He was elected to lead the office in 2002 as California’s only elected public defender, a role he served until his passing in February 2019 at age 59. 

In his tenure, he elevated the office to national prominence as leader for criminal justice reform, human rights and police accountability. He was a beloved warrior for justice in San Francisco and throughout the country.

Valerie Ibarra, public information officer for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, can be reached at Valerie.Ibarra@sfgov.org