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San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi Receives ABA Dorsey Award

Friday, July 14, 2006

  • ABA


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 10, 2006 -The American Bar Association's Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division today announced the recipients of its three annual awards for outstanding work in the government and public sector. The awards will be presented October 13, 2006 at the Warwick Hotel from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Denver, Colorado.

The 2006 Dorsey Award, honoring an outstanding public defender or legal aid lawyer, will be presented to Jeff Adachi, Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco and Lawrence M. Sullivan, Delaware Public Defender.

Jeff Adachi has represented indigent clients for over 20 years, beginning in 1986 when he joined the San Francisco public defender's office. Appointed to Chief Attorney in 1998, he modernized the office and enhanced staff professionalism and morale. In 2002, Adachi was elected to serve as Public Defender. During his tenure, the office became a model of diversity and the staff size increased by 25% resulting in lowered caseloads and improved quality of legal representation throughout the system.

Adachi created model juvenile justice initiatives including educational advocacy, placement assistance for youth and an annual juvenile justice summit. He also developed innovative services aimed at helping past offenders lead productive lives and a unique program to provide support and services to children of incarcerated parents.

During his 36 years of service as Delaware Public Defender, Lawrence M. Sullivan implemented numerous ground-breaking programs and initiatives including the nation's first psycho-forensic evaluation unit, the nation's first statewide videophone system to facilitate communication with detained clients, a statewide innocence project, an in-house forensic services unit, a pre-trial detentioners' drug treatment program, and the creation of Delaware's first Mental Health Court.

Honoring an outstanding government or public sector law office, the 2006 Hodson Award will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Juvenile Offender Intervention Network (JOIN).

JOIN provides swift intervention and accountability for first time youthful offenders who have committed serious non-violent offenses such as theft, vandalism, joy-riding, and drug and knife possession. Offenders who meet JOIN criteria have the opportunity to earn "no filing" of their case if they agree to and successfully complete a one-year contract with JOIN. If a minor refuses the program or fails to comply with the contract conditions, the case is referred for filing and traditional prosecution through the juvenile court. The average juvenile case takes three months to process at a cost of $7,000.

JOIN case are generally resolved in about one month at a cost of $910.00. JOIN participation has been shown to significantly delay recidivism in high risk groups. JOIN was instituted in 1992 in a high crime area of the county and implemented county-wide in 2003 by District Attorney Steve Cooley.

The 2006 Nelson Award, which recognizes superior contributions to the ABA by a public lawyer, will go to John J. Copelan, Jr., General Counsel of Florida's Department of Children and Families.

Copelan has donated his time and enthusiasm to the American Bar Association since the mid 1970s when he was a law student. He became actively involved in the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division when it was formed in 1991 serving as the chair of the Membership and Pro Bono committees.

He was elected to Council in 1992 and served as Chair from 1998-99. As Chair of the Division, he implemented a professionalism initiative that lead to a joint conference on professionalism with the

Florida Bar in 1998. He currently serves on the Council as a representative of the Judge Advocates Association.

Copelan also contributes his time to the ABA's State and Local Government Law Section, the

Legal Aid for Military Personnel Committee, the Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of

Children and as the ABA Advisory Board Member to the National Teen Dating Prevention Initiative.

For more information on these awards or the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, call Sarah Hilton at 202/662-1024 or visit


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