San Francisco’s Public Defender Jeff Adachi Dead at 59

San Francisco’s public defender has died at the age of 59. Jeff Adachi passed away Friday night from a suspected heart attack.

“I am saddened to announce that San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi passed away tonight,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “San Francisco has lost a dedicated public servant, and our communities have lost a champion.”

Adachi has represented indigent criminal defendants since 2002 when he first won election over Kimiko Burton. San Francisco is the only California county that elects its public defender.

Adachi’s personal story was also quite remarkable. He was the Japanese-American son of two victims of WWII internment. He transferred from San Francisco City’s College to UC Berkeley before obtaining his JD from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1985. He then joined the Public Defender’s Office as a deputy public defender.

During his tenure, Adachi handled several high profile cases. These include his representation of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was eventually found not guilty of the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle.

“Jeff was a passionate advocate who always fought for what he believed in," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón on Twitter. "He represented the underserved and gave his career to public service."

Read more about the life and career of Jeff Adachi here