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Pointing to the new district attorney’s plan to eliminate a backlog of homicide cases and the police department’s pledge to solve more murders, Public Defender Jeff Adachi is asking the city for more money to create a homicide unit. “Providing additional resources to the police department and district attorney’s office is meaningless unless the defense also receives sufficient resources,” Adachi wrote in a budget proposal submitted in February. But Adachi’s request comes at a time when the city is asking departments to identify cuts for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The city projects a $260 million shortfall in its $2.2 billion general fund budget next year. Adachi is asking city officials to give him funding to hire 22 additional employees, including six for a new homicide team, plus more expert witnesses. In all, the public defender wants to add about $1.1 million to his $16 million budget. He’s not the only city lawyer requesting more money. District Attorney Kamala Harris will also be asking for more resources, said spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh. But before she submits a detailed proposal, the new DA is awaiting the results of a controller’s audit she has requested, Mesloh said. Shortly after Adachi took office last year, he successfully used a controller’s audit of his office to boost his case for budget increases when many other departments’ budgets were cut. This year, Adachi notes, the DA has asked for a courtroom dedicated to homicides, and the police department is adding investigators to its homicide detail. The public defender also predicts more homicides will come to his office as a result of a “cold hit” program, in which police have recently begun identifying suspects in decades-old sexual assaults and homicides using relatively new DNA technology. In all, he proposes spending $1.1 million on new costs: three lawyers, two investigators and a paralegal to form the homicide unit; four social workers to work with juveniles; two lawyers to handle felony probation violations, which Adachi says are on the rise; a lawyer and social worker to represent defendants charged as a result of Proposition M, a law passed in November to target aggressive panhandlers; six paralegals and two investigators to support the office’s misdemeanor, mental health and drug court units; and more DNA expert witnesses to defend clients in “cold hit” cases. Adachi projects he will bring in $200,000 in additional revenue this year with a new program designed to collect some fees from clients who can’t afford private counsel but can pay something at the PD’s lower rates. Mayor Gavin Newsom directed city departments last month to submit proposals cutting the general fund portion of their budgets by 5.5 percent. He also asked each department for a contingency plan that shows how they would cut an additional 15 percent, if needed. “The instructions were, �No new money, and cut,’” said Controller Ed Harrington. “Some departments paid more attention to that than others. And that’s not uncommon.” The public defender and the DA are submitting plans to account for possible cuts, but they’ll warn city officials that they can’t avoid layoffs if their budgets are slashed, Adachi and Mesloh said. “We’d have no choice but to cut eight prosecutors” if the city cuts 5.5 percent from the DA’s general funds, Mesloh said. City Attorney Dennis Herrera does not plan to ask for additional funding for the coming fiscal year, Managing Attorney Marisa Moret told The Recorder in an e-mail. Herrera’s budget is larger than that of the DA or public defender, but requires the least amount of general funds. Because personnel costs make up 80 percent of the city attorney’s budget, salary cuts or layoffs would be necessary if the city implements the department’s contingency plan, Moret wrote.

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