Witness list circulates calling criminal defendants bad guys

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The San Francisco Public Defender says some are not getting a fair shot in court after a witness list circulated Monday calling criminal defendants bad guys. (KGO-TV)

The San Francisco Public Defender says some are not getting a fair shot in court after a witness list circulated Monday calling criminal defendants bad guys.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi says innocent until proven guilty must be taken seriously. "It's not a joke, people are facing decades in prison," he said.

But, Adachi says a witness saw a sheet of paper circulating in court Monday morning. On the far right column of the witness sign in sheet were the words: Bad guys. It should say defendant. "It's very important that the system be perceived as fair and if you're passing around a witness list referring to defendants or accused in criminal cases as bad guys it sends the wrong message," Adachi said.

The district attorney's office is usually tasked with circulating a witness list.

The office released a statement saying: "This is a very concerning behavior and this in not how we train our employees. We have been looking into this matter and have no reason to believe this was created by our assistant district attorney. We do not know who created this sign in sheet, as typically our sign in sheets are type written."

"I've been around for 30 years, I haven't seen anything like this happen," Adachi said.

Adachi says the presumption of innocence plays out in court because of the cases he sees up to a third are thrown-out before trial. And a third of the cases that do go to trial, result in a not guilty verdict.
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