News & updates from the San Francisco Public Defender's Office
News & updates from the San Francisco Public Defender's Office
Dear Community,

I hope you and your families are well, safe, and healthy. 

As we reflect on 2022, I am incredibly proud of our San Francisco Public Defender justice warriors from every part of our department whose dedication to protecting the rights and well-being of our clients and the community at large is truly inspiring. I am also incredibly grateful to community partners who have worked with our office on numerous issues – such as curtailing the harms caused by racially-biased police stops, increasing compensation for jurors, and addressing the trial backlog in our courts.

As our new logo reflects, we are “Greater Than One” because we could not achieve any successes without the trust of our clients, the dedication of our colleagues, and the tireless energy of community partners. Learn more about the ways “Greater Than One” describes our work in our latest annual report and calendar.

I invite you to join us on Feb. 8 as I get sworn into a full four-year term and take my oath to the community; and I look forward to making 2023 another remarkable year in the fight to create a more just criminal legal system and stronger communities

In Solidarity,
          Mano Raju
          San Francisco Public Defender 
RSVP here to join our community event on Feb. 8 at the Southeast Community Center.

21st Century Leadership

Helps Us Live Our Values 

I’m excited to announce and introduce our new leadership team. In 2022, our office worked intently and intentionally to clarify our values, mission, and vision; and from there developed a stronger and more efficient leadership structure. By adding a number of Chiefs to oversee critical aspects of our department, our new leadership structure is diverse and reflects the world we are striving to build – one that shares power and decision-making, centers our collective humanity, and supports each member of our all-star staff. Learn about how we arrived at our leadership model in this OpEd in the Daily Journal and meet our leadership team.
Elected Public Defender Mano Raju, Chief of Operations Hadi Razzaq, Chief of Staff Lyslynn Lacoste, Chief of Defense Patti Lee, Chief of Policy Angela Chan, Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez
Defending Constitutional Rights
SF Trial Backlog Impacting Hundreds of Cases & Families
The Public Defender’s Office has been making headlines and headway in pushing SF Superior Court to stop violating speedy trial rights of hundreds of people whose lives, liberty, and families have been impacted by the growing trial backlog. We continue to fight for the rights of those whose speedy trial deadlines have been passed over by the court – including over 150 people who remain jailed and others who remain shackled to ankle monitors – while other California counties have found ways to reduce their pandemic backlogs.
CBS News Innovation Lab featured exclusive interviews with Public Defender Mano Raju, Deputy Public Defender Alexandra Pray, and Ms. Pray’s client Sarina Borg, who spent 2.5 years in jail awaiting trial only to have her case dismissed due to lack of evidence.
In September 2022, Public Defenders, impacted clients and families held a mock trial on the steps of the Hall of Justice to indict SF Superior Court for failing to address its oppressive backlog. Inside, we filed motions and petitions in support of community members awaiting trial. In December, we collaborated with community partners to give public comment at the California Judicial Council meeting in San Francisco.
Supporting Youth & Families

Integrating our MAGIC Programs Serving Youth & Families Across the City

Our MAGIC programs continue to serve youth & families in Bayview Hunters Point (B’MAGIC) and the Fillmore Western Addition (Mo’MAGIC). In 2022, we brought both programs under one Director, Brittany Ford to better integrate opportunities and community-based resources that help our youth thrive and grow through education, recreation, and service to support strong community bonds. Connect with our MAGIC programs to receive weekly updates on resources, activities and opportunities for San Franciscans of all ages.
Our MAGIC programs host year-round activities for youth, and neighborhood events, like Summer Learning Day and the annual Backpack Giveaways.
MAGIC Director Brittany Ford now oversees B'MAGIC & Mo'MAGIC.

Young Defenders Paid High School Internship Program 

We are incredibly proud of our Young Defenders, who have been gaining educational and work experience while learning about the legal system through the unique lens of public defense. Applications for Summer 2023 internships open soon. Please apply through Opportunities for All and say that you’re interested in the Young Defenders cohort.
Jordan, a Young Defender, speaks at the 2022 Opportunities for All Summer Kickoff at Chase Center, about how his internship has inspired him to pursue a career in law and justice for his community.
Driving Policies for Justice & Equity

“Be The Jury” Delivers Diversity & Juror Satisfaction

$100/day Eliminates Financial Hardship

We’re excited by the initial results of the Be The Jury pilot program, which compensates low- to moderate-income San Franciscans $100 per day to eliminate financial hardship for jury service, and increases the economic and racial diversity of our juries to better reflect the demographics of our city. Over 400 people have received stipends in the first six months, and 81% of participants said that the stipend made it possible for them to serve. Justin Phillips of the San Francisco Chronicle called it “a boon for the city’s civic-minded but cash-strapped residents.” And it has garnered more positive media attention from KQED, the San Francisco Standard, and Law360. We are working towards extending this program locally, and hopefully statewide.
If you are summoned to jury duty in San Francisco, you will receive information about how to qualify for the Be The Jury compensation program to receive $100/day for your service.

Historic Win in Push to End Racially-Biased Police Stops

Our Confront Team, which confronts state violence and advocates for community empowerment, has been a big part of the Coalition to End Biased Stops, and we’re thrilled that the SF Police Commission voted to adopt a new policy designed to reduce the harms caused by racial profiling of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The new policy will prevent SFPD officers from using a number of traffic and vehicle code violations (for example, a broken tail light or an object hanging from the rearview mirror) as the sole or primary excuse to pull someone over – which is often used as a “pretext” to harass and search them without probable cause, and can escalate to police violence. These racially-biased stops yield little in terms of public safety, yet terrorize and demoralize predominantly Black and Latinx people in our city. This policy shift is an important step toward healing a legacy of racial injustice, and we look forward to its implementation in the coming months. Be sure to read this Op Ed explaining why 100+ organizations support these changes.

Maintain Funding for Public Defender Resentencing Programs in California

The California governor’s office has proposed a $50M cut to Public Defender offices around the state who have been working to implement laws intended to help rehabilitated people petition for resentencing and release from prison. Using just under 2% of that funding, our phenomenal Freedom Project was able to serve 80 individuals and reunite 19 families, and our reentry social workers helped bridge the gap from prison back to the community. Courthouse News reported on the growing pushback against the proposed cuts, especially amid state a budget that annually gives hundreds of millions to police and prosecutors and billions to prisons.
The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Freedom Project collaborated with our Youth Defender Unit to help free Jamesetta Guy, who was sentenced in adult court when she was 17 years old in 1981. Read the story in The New York Times Magazine
Fighting for Immigrant Rights & Reuniting Families

Immigration Unit Wins Bond for LGBTQ Artist, Continues Push for Pardon

Our office has been pushing for statewide changes to end the double punishment of immigrants and to close the prison-to-ICE pipeline. Doing so would prevent tragic situations like what happened to our inspirational client Salesh Prasad, who was needlessly transferred into ICE custody on what would have been his first day of freedom after earning parole. That day, the transport van came within 100 yards of his mother’s house, yet ICE refused to let him attend her funeral when she passed just weeks later. Sal has since been granted bond, and is ready to give back to the community, but his fight to remain in the U.S. goes on. Dozens of organizations and elected officials, as well as the Editorial Board of the Bay Area Reporter, are urging the governor to pardon Sal in order to prevent his deportation to Fiji, a country he left at age 6, and where he faces discrimination and persecution for his queer identity. You can join the effort by signing and sharing this petition.
Learn more about Sal in this article by Sam Levin in The Guardian, Sal's Op Ed in the Bay Area Reporter, or his interview with KQED.
Services & Community Engagement

Clean Slate Helps Clean Up Criminal Records

If you or someone you know is being held back because of a criminal record in San Francisco, our Clean Slate team wants to help you move forward. Due to a new California law called the Fresh Start Act, you may be eligible for expungement even if you still owe restitution. Use the QR code below or click here to start your application today and schedule an appointment for one of our weekly clinics. If you have questions, contact us at or leave a message at (415) 553-9337. Nosotros tambien hablamos español.
Scan here for a Clean Slate.
Public Defender Budget Presentation

Join Public Defender Mano Raju to learn about FY23-25 budget priorities, the latest public safety impacts, and new initiatives. The meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 9 from 1-2pm via zoom.

Request for Proposals: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We are seeking assistance in developing a comprehensive plan for ongoing internal and external work and learning related to DEI. Completed RFPs are due by Friday, Feb. 14. Please contact for more details if interested in applying.

Daring Defender Series

Learn about the many innovative ways our office defends our indigent clients, confronts state violence, and advocates for community power in an ongoing interview series hosted by Mano Raju. Be sure to follow @ManoRajuPD on Twitter and Instagram to see new episodes as they pop up, or watch them on YouTube.

Front Desk: Open to the Public

Our office at 555 7th Street is now open to visitors M-F 8am- 5pm. Please check in with our Front Desk staff on the 2nd Floor. For the health and safety of our staff, if you have any cold or flu symptoms, we ask that you reschedule your appointment. If you do not have a mask upon entry, one may be provided to you. You can also reach our Front Desk at (415) 553-1671 or contact us via our website