SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor London Breed announced on March 11 that she has selected Deputy Public Defender Manohar Raju to serve as the next San Francisco public defender.
Raju, who will fill the vacancy left after the sudden passing of Public Defender Jeff Adachi, currently manages the Felony Division in the Public Defender’s Office.
Raju will serve until November, when there will be an election to fill out the remaining three years of Adachi’s term. Adachi had just started his fifth term, having been re-elected without opposition.
“Mano has demonstrated a commitment to justice and equity on behalf of not only his clients, but also the entire community that Public Defender’s Office serves,” said Breed. “His advocacy for addressing systemic challenges to help those who need it most demonstrates that he will continue Jeff Adachi’s legacy of not only fighting in the courtroom, but also fighting to change policies and support innovative programs that make a difference in the community.
“I am confident that in Mano our city will have someone who will continue on the mission that Jeff set for the office. I look forward to working with Mano to make San Francisco a more just and equitable city.”
“Jeff Adachi was a tremendous leader, trailblazer, and friend. We are deeply mourning his loss in San Francisco and nationally,” said Raju. “I am honored to accept Mayor Breed’s appointment to carry forward the visionary advocacy of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Being a public defender is a spiritual calling for me – a calling inspired by the resilience of our clients and communities.
“I look forward to further building a vigorous, community-centered public defense office through the collective leadership of our entire staff.”
Raju began his career as a public defender 18 years ago in the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office. He has been with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office for the past 11 years. In addition to trying cases and defending clients, Raju has served as the director of training in the Public Defender’s Office, where he worked with the staff to develop and enhance public defender practices.
Raju was promoted to manage the Felony Unit, where he manages the office’s felony attorneys while continuing to handle his own complex felony cases.
Raju received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and his law degree from UC Berkeley. He lived in San Francisco for several years, but moved to Oakland a few years ago. He will move back to San Francisco to serve as public defender.
Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney in the Public Defender’s Office, will remain in that position and help to manage the office.
“I have known Mano Raju for two decades and am confident he will be an outstanding public defender,” said Gonzalez. “I couldn’t be more pleased with Mayor Breed’s decision. Mano has a keen intellect, exceptional trial skills, and an awareness of the importance of being anchored in the communities we serve, all of which are essential to leading and inspiring the office. He has my full support.”
Raju has been active in working with the California Public Defenders Association and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He is one of the founding members of Public Defenders for Racial Justice, a Bay Area organization devoted to race-conscious practices in the courtroom, including working to advance polices to increase African American representation on juries in order to make juries more reflective of the population. He has testified in Sacramento on behalf of the office to advocate for these policy changes.