For exposing law enforcement misconduct to the public, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi will be honored with an award from the Society of Professional Journalists this week. 

SPJ’s Northern California chapter will present Adachi with its Public Official Award during Thursday’s James Madison Freedom of Information Awards held at the City Club in San Francisco. The awards recognize Northern California organizations and individuals who have significantly contributed to advancing freedom of information or expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment.  

“Public Defender Adachi has demonstrated a continued commitment to public transparency by exposing an inmate fighting ring run by guards in San Francisco’s jail, releasing videos of police misconduct to the public, and advocating for public disclosure in the San Francisco Police Department’s body camera policy,” said SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee in a statement. 

Adachi said he was pleased to receive the award. 

“I am honored to receive recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists, an organization that has done so much to protect press freedom,” he said. “The Public Defender’s office regularly exposes misconduct to the press and public because our clients are often ignored or disbelieved when they complain through official channels. In each case, sunlight proved the best disinfectant.”

The Public Defender’s release of information has led to the disbanding of a troubled police undercover unit that illegally searched and stole from hotel residents and the criminal conviction of several of its officers. Video of a fatal stabbing released by Adachi freed a teenage boy wrongly arrested for the killing.  Three San Francisco Sheriff’s deputies are currently facing criminal charges stemming from Adachi’s investigation into forced inmate fights, and an investigation is currently ongoing into Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies after Adachi released video of them beating a prone, unarmed man in a San Francisco alley.