"I'm here because I believe our criminal justice system is broken."
If Legal Pad told you those words were uttered at a forum between San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and Public Defender Jeff Adachi, you'd bet it was Adachi who made the statement, right?
Nope, that was Gascon, the former police chief-turned-DA who looks the part of an old-school, lock-em-up prosecutor but sounds like a kinder, gentler version of Kamala Harris.
With Gascon and Adachi sharing the stage Thursday at University of San Francisco School of Law, and a crime lab scandal and videotaped illegal searches in recent headlines, it was enough to make a legal journalist salivate.
"The reality is this system has been morally bankrupt for many years," said Adachi. Yeah! You go Jeff!
Oh wait, no, that was Gascon again.
"It's funny," Adachi said during his introduction. "When people see us, they think we're going to fight each other." But he sees Gascon as "a breath of fresh air. We're going to be able to do things differently."
OK, there were some slight disagreements. Adachi said he's been warning about the crime lab for years, recalling that he once was sanctioned 50 cents by an unnamed judge for every question he asked a lab witness. Gascon, by contrast, said it was a fiasco but "not representative of everything [authorities] do. This is one thing that happened" and law enforcement "has got to make sure it never happens again."
Adachi also ripped the federal Secure Communities Program, in which jails submit arrestees' fingerprints so the feds can deport anyone who's here illegally. San Francisco, he said, has "bowed to what is happening on a national level." Gascon, who testified in Congress against the use of local police for immigration enforcement, said he regrets what he sees as "almost a war on people of Hispanic descent" around the country, but emphasized that the governor and attorney general have required that the state follow the fingerprinting program. (See this video for more of their discussion.)
Oh, and those videotapes that appeared to show cops illegally entering residences? Never came up.