On April 18, 2019, the NAPD Fund for Justice, Inc. Board of Directors created the NAPD Fund for Justice Public Defense Hall of Fame with Jeff Adachi as the first inductee.

The NAPD Fund for Justice Public Defense Hall of Fame recognizes men and women like Jeff who have devoted a lifetime of creative leadership that advanced the right to counsel in a systematic way. It honors someone whose life, amidst struggles and setbacks, is a resilient, hopeful marathon of fierce and creative advocacy.

Jeff’s induction is based on his lifetime of dedicated public defense work, his fierce advocacy for clients and racial justice, and his creative communication for clients. His visionary efforts are his enduring national legacy.

Creative Advocacy Grant(s)

Throughout the country, oppressed communities benefit from the courageous, innovative, and creative advocacy and leadership by public defenders. The NAPD Fund for Justice Creative Advocacy Grant was created in April 2019 to provide them support and encouragement. One or more Creative Advocacy Grants will be awarded annually to public defender organizations that demonstrate public value through community engagement on an issue critical to client advocacy. Issues may include: an educational campaign; public policy initiative regarding criminal justice reform; public defense independence; workload advocacy. Depending on the substance of the grant request, members of the National Association for Public Defense Communicators, Workload or System Builders Committees will make up part of the award review committee, and will support the approved work in ways identified with the grantee. The NAPD Fund for Justice, Inc. board of directors will review the nominated initiatives and make award(s) in December each year.


Into the future, a host of Public Defense Creative Advocacy grants will be awarded in Jeff Adachi’s name.

The initiatives are made in the spirit of the Public Defense Hall of Fame members, each of whom provided client-centered creative advocacy that had significant benefit to public defense systems.


To apply for a grant or make a donation, see:  https://fundforjustice.org/creative-advocacy-grant/


Here is our tribute to Jeff:

Jeff Adachi served as the Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco before his untimely death in 2019. He is the first inductee into the Public Defense Hall of Fame on April 18, 2019. Mr. Adachi was a leader in the movement to shine a light on racial injustice, both by engaging the community and lending his office’s support to community advocacy, protest and ancillary social services, as well as elevating the actual trial skills of public defenders around the country to address racial bias at every state of the criminal process. Significantly, Mr. Adachi was a well-known mentor and inspiration not only to his colleagues in leadership, but to hundreds of line defender, social workers and investigators around the country. He was also known for his creative advocacy, including his extensive media work, which included hiring one of the country’s first full-time communications professionals to work within a public defender’s office, his legendary annual reports and related materials, his filmmaking, his fearless use of social media to bring accountability to other agencies in his local justice system, and his vision for transforming the public’s perception of public defense, which he detailed in a manifesto called the Six Stratagems. He was a Founding Member of the National Association for Public Defense and served on its Steering Committee. Before being elected as Public Defender in March 2002, Mr. Adachi worked as a deputy public defender in San Francisco for 15 years and in private practice for 2 years. From 1998-2001, he served as the Chief Attorney of the office. He tried over 150 jury trials, including numerous serious felony and homicide cases, and handled over 3,000 criminal matters throughout his career, including some of the Bay Area’s highest profile cases. As the only elected Public Defender in the state of California, and one of few elected public defenders in the United States, Mr. Adachi oversaw an office of 93 lawyers and 60 support staff. The office represents over 23,000 people each year who are charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. In 2019, the office had a $25 million budget, and provided a panoply of innovative programs to its clients, including Drug Court, Clean Slate expungement services, and a full-service juvenile division. The office also has one of the country’s top intern programs for law students and graduates. Mr. Adachi served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigents and was a member of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is the co-author of “Chapter 25: Immunity for Testimony,”  in the California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice book, and a past board member of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the San Francisco Bar Association. He was past president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area and the San Francisco Japanese American Citizens League. He was a certified criminal law specialist since 1991. Mr. Adachi has also taught with BAR/BRI bar review for 15 years and has published five books on passing the bar exam. Mr. Adachi has received multiple awards and accolades for his work. He has gotten the California State Bar Association’s Hufstedler Award for public service,  the Asian American Bar Association’s Joe Morozumi Award for exceptional legal advocacy, and  was honored by the Asian American Bar Association of the Silicon Valley. He also received the Mayor’s Fiscal Advisory Committee’s Managerial Excellence Award, the California Public Defender Association’s Program of the Year Award, and the American Bar Association’s national Dorsey award for excellence in public defense. He was also the recipient of the prestigious California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award (CLAY) for his work in the field of prisoner reentry. He graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1985 and attended undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley. His legacy of advocacy will never cease to inspire us, will continue to lead us forward and will always be remembered.