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Tensions escalated this week between San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and his predecessor’s top lieutenant, Deputy Public Defender Randall Martin. As chief attorney for ex-Public Defender Kim Burton, Martin was the office’s manager and was paid $166,000 annually. Last week Adachi, who took office Jan. 8, assigned Martin to the fairly low-level job of misdemeanor arraignments. Then this week Adachi offered Martin a head attorney’s salary of $149,000. But Martin, who showed up last week for his misdemeanor assignment but has been calling in sick this week, isn’t taking the job or the pay. Adachi says James Lassart, attorney for the Municipal Attorneys Association, wrote him a letter that says Martin will not accept a lower salary. Adachi also said Lassart, a partner at Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley, told him that Martin does not want a lesser job and will not resign as chief attorney. “We’re still at a standoff,” Adachi said. Lassart did not return calls to his office. The struggle between Martin and Adachi underscores the ill will between Burton’s and Adachi’s supporters in the 67-lawyer office. The feud between Adachi and Burton goes back to January 2001, when Mayor Willie Brown appointed Burton to succeed outgoing PD Jeff Brown. The day she was sworn in, Burton fired Adachi, a 15-year public defender and the No. 2 in the office under Brown. Despite heavy campaign spending on Burton’s behalf, Adachi won the March election with 55 percent of the vote. The subsequent bad blood between the two has spilled over into the office. When Adachi took charge the first week of January, he found Burton had granted vacations of up to one month to three of her top lieutenants, including Martin. Consequently, Adachi was unable initially to fill two key positions. Now it seems to be payback time. On his return from vacation, Martin was greeted with the misdemeanor arraignment assignment and lower pay offer. Adachi declined to discuss whether he would fire Martin. A termination could mean giving Martin a severance package that could be a drain on the office’s tight budget. The rift between Adachi and Martin may not be all about Martin’s support of Burton. The two men have a long-simmering enmity for each other, according to office sources, who are uncertain how it started. While Martin is not cooperating with Adachi, not everyone is fighting the new regime. Adachi said that Deputy Public Defender Susan Kaplan, who had been a head attorney under Burton and supervised felony trials, has accepted a position as a principal attorney for a $139,000 annual salary. She will be assigned a new, as yet undetermined job, the PD said, when she returns from vacation in February. Deputy Public Defender Lisa Dewberry, the misdemeanor trials supervisor under Burton who is on medical leave, has also been reduced from head to principal attorney, Adachi said.

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