San Francisco Mayor appoints Indian American Manohar Raju as public defender

In a historic move, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced the appointment of Indian American Manohar “Mano” Raju as San Francisco public defender. 

The 50-year-old Raju is the son of immigrants from India. He had managed the San Francisco Public Defender's felony unit and has been with the office for 11 years. He first began working as a public defender in Contra Costa County 18 years ago.

In a press statement March 11, Mayor Breed said: “Mano has demonstrated a commitment to justice and equity on behalf of not only his clients but also the entire community that the Public Defender’s Office serves.”

“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,” she said.

"We are going to renew and recharge our commitment to excellence for our clients," Raju said. "We are going to continue broader reform efforts; we are going to continue to protect the public against overreaching government abuses. We are going to continue our struggle for racial justice in this city and statewide, and we are going to deepen our empowering engagement with the communities we serve."

Raju spoke of his appreciation of Breed for keeping the appointment within the public defender's office.

Raju will serve as an interim public defender until elections are held on Nov. 5, which will determine who will serve the remaining three years of previous public defender Jeff Adachi, who died suddenly on Feb. 22. San Francisco is the only county in California that elects its public defender.

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