indica News Bureau-
At the Ella Hill Hutch community center located in San Francisco’s Western Addition, Manohar “Mano” Raju was sworn in as the city’s public defender Thursday, April 25.
He is the first South Asian American to head a Public Defender’s office in the city of San Francisco.
Raju 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.
Sworn in by Mayor London Breed, the moment was celebrated with Mano Raju’s wife, Asha Raju, and his son, Asim Raju, who sat next to him with smiles. He exacerbated his joy for the community and his excitement during the event as he was hugged by his godchildren Vivian, Rowan, and Fallon.
Raju promised to continue Jeff Adachi’s legacy stating, “This is our city and our mandate as public defenders is literally to defend this city from those forces who might choose to turn it into a less just society,” Raju said. “Together we will not let that happen.”
Raju said that he truly believed that public defender work was “a calling,” and declared, “public defender work requires empathy with clients who may be navigating different traumas or oppressive conditions, critical legal analysis, strategic thinking, passion for justice, and a willingness to really ‘bring it’ in the courtroom.”
Raju parents immigrated from Tamil Nadu, India. His father Palanichamy Pillai Raju was an engineer and was the first to finish high school in his family and Raju calls him his a huge inspiration.
Raju before being chosen by Mayor Breed to succeed the late Jeff Adachi, he worked in the public defender’s office for 11 years, some of which he spent as director of training and then as felony manager. Previously he worked at the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office.
Raju did his undergraduate studies at Columbia University and earned his Master’s in South Asian studies from the University of California Berkeley. He also attended UC Berkeley for law school. He is also a founding member of Public Defenders for Racial Justice.