Matt Gonzalez returns to public defender’s office

Former San Francisco Supervisors President and 2008 independent vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez has returned from whence he came – the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, where he took over today as chief attorney.

gonzalez1.jpgGonzalez, 45, was a deputy public defender from 1991 to 2001; he then served on the Board of Supervisors from 2000 through 2005, and lost the 2003 mayoral election to Gavin Newsom. He was independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s running mate in 2008.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced Gonzalez’s return to his staff at an 8 a.m. meeting. Gonzalez replaces former Chief Attorney Teresa Caffese, who left Dec. 31 for private practice.

Both Adachi’s and Gonzalez’s names have been bandied about as possible San Francisco mayoral candidates this year, both appealing to progressives; neither has declared candidacy.

In a news release, Adachi said Gonzalez’s experience both in the courtroom and in City Hall make him an excellent fit for the position, which involves overseeing and managing all internal operations of the Public Defender’s office as well as participating in budget planning and negotiations.

“We wanted a top trial lawyer who understands our work, has a commitment to our clients and a dedication to preserving the resources that allow our office to function,” Adachi said. “That person is Matt Gonzalez.”

Gonzalez since 2005 has been a partner in the law firm of Gonzalez and Leigh, where he handled both civil and criminal matters including several federal civil rights cases; 2010 Green gubernatorial nominee Laura Wells retained him after being arrested outside the Jerry Brown-Meg Whitman debate last October in San Rafael.

The McAllen, Texas native received his Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1987 and his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1990.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.