About

Teresa CaffeseAfter almost 23 years and thou­sands of cases, Teresa Caffese left the Pub­lic Defender’s office in Jan­u­ary 2011.

Teresa was the first woman to serve as Chief Attor­ney in the 87 year his­tory of the San Fran­cisco Pub­lic Defender’s Office. As Chief Attor­ney of the largest crim­i­nal defense law firm in the city and one of the top pub­lic defender offices in the coun­try, she super­vised 13 man­agers who over­saw 95 attor­neys and 85 sup­port staff pro­viding legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion and sup­port ser­vices to over 20,000 peo­ple each year.

In over two decades of crim­i­nal defense prac­tice she has rep­re­sented thou­sands of clients in mis­de­meanor and felony cases and lit­i­gated over 75 jury tri­als, rang­ing from sim­ple drug pos­ses­sion to high-profile homi­cide. Teresa is regarded as hav­ing spe­cial exper­tise in cases that require exten­sive skills in foren­sic analy­sis and inter­pre­ta­tion, as well as men­tal com­pe­tency issues. As her career has pro­gressed Teresa has won more often than she last lost at trial, but defines “suc­cess” as get­ting her clients to a just deci­sion that allows them to move on with their lives. These results and her stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion for pro­fes­sion­al­ism and integrity are among the rea­sons she is widely respected as one of the lead­ing crim­i­nal defense attor­neys in Cal­i­for­nia.

Teresa has been hon­ored as a trial attor­ney by numer­ous legal groups, includ­ing the Women Defend­ers, and serves on crim­i­nal law advi­sory com­mit­tees for the San Fran­cisco Bar Asso­ci­a­tion and the Cal­i­for­nia Bar Asso­ci­a­tion of which she is Sec­re­tary of the Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee on Crim­i­nal Law.  In 2012, Teresa was inducted as a Fel­low into the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Trial Lawyers and in 2013, into the Inter­na­tional Acad­emy of Trial Lawyers.

Teresa shares her pas­sion for crim­i­nal jus­tice through media appear­ances, pub­lic speak­ing and teach­ing, includ­ing as an Adjunct Pro­fes­sor at Golden Gate School of Law where she has taught Trial Advo­cacy. She is a cur­rent mem­ber of BALIF and the USF School of Law Amer­i­can Inn of Court. She has been rec­og­nized by the City and County of San Fran­cisco for her work to help those suf­fer­ing from men­tal illness.

A native Cal­i­forn­ian, Teresa has deep roots in the Bay Area which she has made her home since attend­ing UC Berke­ley and Hast­ings School of Law.