Frequently Asked Questions


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Q: How did Mano become Public Defender?

Mano was appointed Public Defender after the untimely passing of civil rights hero Public Defender Jeff Adachi. An 11 year veteran of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Mayor London Breed swore Mano Raju into office as the first South Asian Public Defender in San Francisco history.

Mayor Breed selected Mano due to his reputation as a fighter bringing justice to the courtroom. She called him “an incredible leader,” for his advocacy work at the state capital, commitment to support of clients and families, and agitation for juries that reflect the communities of the accused. The Public Defender’s Office greeted the Mayor’s announcement with a long ovation.

Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez enthusiastically supported Mano’s appointment, saying “Mano’s going to do a terrific job carrying on Jeff’s legacy.”

Mano will stand for election in November 2019 to finish out Jeff Adachi’s term.


Q: What is Mano’s legal philosophy?

Practice in a client-centered way. Leave no stone unturned. Care deeply. Do not be afraid to go to trial, bring truth into the courtroom, and balance the scales for our clients, their families and communities- this is Mano’s legal philosophy that he strives to uphold.

Mano’s unmatched record as trial attorney is driven by learning about inequity and resilliency at an early age. Raised by South Indian immigrants, he returned often to his family home of Tamil Nadu and witnessed firsthand how unbalanced the scales were against his community. He also learned about resiliency from his parents and other members of his extended family.

Public defense work in San Francisco is challenging. We are burdened with a system that treats people differently based on class, neighborhood, race and gender. It uses tools like gang prosecutions that label a whole community of people as guilty- guilty of being born with particular color or in a particular neighborhood.

But Mano has faith in his clients- in their families and communities, faith in juries, and faith in the committed professionals of the Public Defender’s Office- faith that in the face of a broken system, we can effectively advocate to deliver equitable results.

Mano has defended thousands of accused in his years in Contra Costa County and in his 11 years in the San Francisco Public Defenders office- and results, to quote senior felony attorney Sandy Feinland, are “off the charts.” He is an exceptionally gifted trial attorney, befriending clients and families and fighting to bring forward their truth in court. Mano’s former client Shawn George reflected, “Because of Mano, I didn’t become a statistic... Mano looked at me as a person that was in a bad situation. He stayed on me and he earned our trust… Thank you, Mano. You saved me.”

Q: What are Mano’s priorities as Public Defender?

  1. Continue Jeff Adachi’s legacy of balancing the scales of justice for the accused and their families
  2. Real community engagement that reduces recidivism by providing a support network to those who continue to struggle after they leave the prison system

    Read more about Mano’s priorities