San Francisco says farewell to public defender Jeff Adachi

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Jeff Adachi was often called "The Warrior of the Underserved." A memorial was held Monday at City Hall for the late public defender.

From the dignitaries sitting in the front rows to the ordinary San Franciscans filling the balconies of city hall, they all came to remember Adachi as a man who fought for a more just and equitable San Francisco.

RELATED: San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi remembered as a warrior for poor and minority communities

"There's a whole lot of important people here today but we all know everybody was important to Jeff," said Rudy Corpuz, of United Playaz Violence Prevention Organization, who served as Monday's master of ceremonies.

Adachi was the only "elected" Public Defender in California. It was the people of San Francisco who put him in that position for five consecutive terms. That was something he was proud of.

Adachi and his chief attorney, Matt Gonzalez, worked closely on a number of cases.

"Most people want to measure the accused at their worst moment but Jeff wanted to measure people by their potential," expressed Gonzalez, who is likely to succeed Adachi.

Adachi died on February 22 from an apparent heart attack. He was 59.

EXCLUSIVE: Key witness in death investigation of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi speaks to I-Team

"We cannot help but feel that he should have had many, many more years of life to fill," said the Reverend Bob Oshita of the Buddist Church of Sacramento.

On Monday, his co-workers wore T-shirts with his picture on them.

Mayor London Breed remembered a younger Adachi coming to her predominately black neighborhood to offer legal aid to those in the community.

"Everyone let him do his thing because everyone knew Jeff was there to help, everyone knew he cared about our community," explained Breed.

His parents and grandparents spent time in a Japanese internment camp. That also led to a passion for filmmaking which he used to expose social injustices.

"He loved life completely and he lived it intensely," said his brother Stan Adachi.

Jeff Adachi is survived by his wife and daughter and his parents.

See more stories, photos and videos on Jeff Adachi.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.