San Francisco Mayor appoints Indian-American as Public Defender

Newly appointed San Francisco Public Defender Manohar Raju. (Photo Courtesy: SF Public Defender’s Office)

The Mayor of San Francisco London N. Breed announced March 11, that she has selected Deputy Public Defender Manohar Raju to serve as the next San Francisco Public Defender, following the untimely death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi Feb. 22.

Raju, who currently manages the Felony Division in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, will serve as San Francisco Public Defender until the next scheduled election in November 2019, when there will be an election to fill out the remaining three years of Public Defender Adachi’s term.

“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,” Mayor Breed is quoted saying in the press release. “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 added in praise of her Indian-American appointee.

Mission Local, a news site for local reportage ( said about Raju, “He is respected within the department as a crack trial attorney who has amassed an impressive string of acquittals and/or successful defenses in homicide cases. Members of the Public Defender’s office expressed a “sigh of relief” at his selection…” The news report described Raju as “not being political” and predicted he would not have a “serious” challenger come the November election.

“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 said.

The South Asian Bar Association of North America congratulated Raju on Facebook for his new assignment.

A graduate of Columbia University, N. Y., Raju has a law degree from University of California, Berkeley. He became 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 eleven years. Raju has also served as the Director of Training in the Public Defender’s Office.

A resident of San Francisco for several years, Raju moved to Oakland a few years ago, but will relocate to San Francisco to serve as Public Defender, the press release from the Mayor’s office said.

Active in the California Public Defenders Association and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Raju is also 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.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here