Chesa Boudin

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Chesa Boudin
District Attorney of San Francisco
Assumed office
January 8, 2020
Preceded bySuzy Loftus (interim)
Personal details
Born (1980-08-21) August 21, 1980 (age 39)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Valerie Block
MotherKathy Boudin
FatherDavid Gilbert
RelativesBill Ayers (adoptive father)
Bernardine Dohrn (adoptive mother)
EducationYale University (BA, JD)
St Antony's College, Oxford (MPhil)

Chesa Boudin (born August 21, 1980) is an American lawyer, writer, and lecturer specializing in the U.S. criminal justice system and Latin American policy. Since January 8, 2020, he is the district attorney of San Francisco, having won the 2019 election.

Early life, family, and education[edit]

Boudin was born in New York City.[1] His parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were Weather Underground members.[2]

When Boudin was 14 months old, his parents were arrested for murder in their role as getaway car drivers in the Brink's robbery of 1981 in Rockland County, New York.[1][3] His mother was sentenced to 20 years to life[4] and his father to 75 years to life for the felony murders of two police officers and a security guard.[5] After his parents were incarcerated, Boudin was raised in Chicago by adoptive parents Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who, like his parents, had been members of the Weather Underground.[6] Boudin did not learn to read until age 9, a phenomenon common to children of incarcerated parents.[7] Kathy Boudin was released under parole supervision in 2003.[3][8]

Boudin descends from a long left-wing lineage. His great-great-uncle, Louis B. Boudin,[9] was a Marxist theoretician and author of a two-volume history of the Supreme Court's influence on American government, and his grandfather Leonard Boudin was an attorney who represented controversial clients such as Fidel Castro and Paul Robeson.[10] Boudin is also related to Michael Boudin,[9] a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Isidor Feinstein Stone, an independent journalist.[9][11]

Boudin entered St Antony's College, Oxford, on a Rhodes Scholarship in 2003.[2] At Oxford, he earned two master's degrees, one in forced migration and the other in public policy in Latin America. He earned his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2011[12] and began work for the San Francisco Public Defender's Office as a post-doctoral fellow in 2012.[3]


Before law school, Boudin traveled to Venezuela and served as a translator in the administration of then-president Hugo Chávez.[13] After law school, from 2011 to 2012, Boudin served as a law clerk to M. Margaret McKeown on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[14] He was a 2012–2013 Liman Fellow at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office,[15] and in 2013 and 2014, he served as a clerk to Charles Breyer on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.[16] In 2015, Boudin began working full time at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office as a deputy public defender.[17] While there, he argued on behalf of the office's clients that California's bail system is unconstitutional, leading to the landmark decision In re Kenneth Humphrey, in which the state's First District Court of Appeals held that judges must give consideration to a defendant's ability to pay before setting bail.[18] Boudin also serves on the board of the Civil Rights Corps,[19] a national non-profit organization, and is on the board of Restore Justice, a non-profit based in California.[20]

Boudin translated Understanding the Bolivarian Revolution: Hugo Chávez Speaks with Marta Harnecker into English,[21][22] co-edited Letters From Young Activists: Today's Young Rebels Speak Out,[23] and co-wrote The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions – 100 Answers.[24] His latest book, Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America, was released in April 2009 by Charles Scribner's Sons, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.[25][failed verification] The book received mixed reviews.[26][27][28]

District Attorney of San Francisco[edit]

2019 election[edit]

In the 2019 election, Boudin was elected San Francisco District Attorney, defeating interim district attorney Suzy Loftus.[29][30]


On January 8, 2020, Boudin was sworn in as San Francisco district attorney by San Francisco mayor London Breed.[31][32]

On January 10, 2020, two days after being sworn in, Boudin fired six prosecutors.[33] On January 22, he fulfilled a key campaign promise of his by eliminating cash bail and replacing it with a "risk-based system," in which prosecutors evaluate whether or not a defendant poses a threat to public safety as a condition for their pretrial release.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Boudin lives in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco with his wife Valerie Block, a post-doctoral researcher at University of California, San Francisco.[3]



  • "Chapter 1: Letters to Our Parents," In: Berger, Dan; Boudin, Chesa; Farrow, Kenyon (eds.). Letters from Young Activists. Today's Rebels Speak Out. Nation Books, 2005, pp. 3–8. ISBN 978-1-56025-747-9.
  • The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions-100 Answers. Chesa Boudin (ed.), Gabriel González (ed.), Wilmer Rumbos (ed.). Basic Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-5602-5773-8
  • Gringo. A Coming-of-Age in Latin America. Chesa Boudin; Paperback ed. Scribner, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4165-5912-2


  • "Steps to Family Forgiveness." Chesa Boudin. Fellowship 70 (2004): 18.
  • "Strategic Options for Development of a Worker Center." Chesa Boudin and Rebecca Scholtz. Harvard Latino Law Review 13 (2010): 91-126.
  • "Institutional Design and International Electoral Observers: Kicking the Habit." Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review 39 (2010): 39.
  • "Publius and the Petition: Doe v. Reed and the History of Anonymous Speech." Chesa Boudin. The Yale Law Review 120 (2011): 2140-2181.
  • "Children of Incarcerated Parents: The Child's Constitutional Right to the Family Relationship." Chesa Boudin. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 101 (2011): 77-118.
  • "Prison visitation policies: A fifty-state survey." Chesa Boudin, Trevor Stutz, Aaron Littman. Yale Law & Policy Review 32 (2013): 149-189.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Heyman, J.D. (December 23, 2002). "Free Thinker". People Magazine. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Wilgoren, Jodi (December 9, 2002). "From a Radical Background, A Rhodes Scholar Emerges". The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Evan Sernoffsky (January 15, 2019). "Chesa Boudin, son of imprisoned radicals, looks to become SF district attorney". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ "Judge Says Kathy Boudin Will Get 20-Years-to-Life". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 27, 1984. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  5. ^ Evans, Colin (2002). "Weatherman Brinks Trials: 1983". Great American Trials. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  6. ^ Paul, Deanna (November 2, 2019). "After decades visiting his parents in prison, this lawyer wants to be San Francisco's next DA". Washington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  7. ^ Sotomayor, Sonia (January 9, 2020). Congratulatory message played at Boudin inauguration (Video). Herbst Theatre, San Francisco: Chesa Boudin. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  8. ^ Foderaro, Lisa (September 18, 2003). "With Bouquet and A Wave, Boudin is Free 22 Years Later". The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Margolick, David (April 24, 1992). "An Unusual Court Nominee, N.Y. Times (April 24, 1992)". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Powers, Thomas (November 2, 2003). "Underground Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone". Democracy Now!. June 18, 2009. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2013. his brother-in-law Leonard Boudin, who forced the State Department...
  12. ^ "Delegates". University of British Columbia. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Gonzales, Richard (April 26, 2009). "'Gringo,' by Chesa Boudin". SFGate. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "Biographies for the Recipients of YLS Fellowships and Fellowships Sponsored by Other Institutions" (PDF). Yale Law School. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  15. ^ "Hope, Illusion, and Imagination: The Politics of Parole and Reentry in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Panel Presentation)" (PDF). The Rose Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence Program. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  16. ^ Blackwell, Savannah (May 14, 2014). "Criminal Injustice". Fog City Journal. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  17. ^ Epstien, Ken (April 4, 2019). "Boudin Runs for District Attorney". Post News Group. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  18. ^ "S.F. Man Whose Case Upended California's Bail System Wins Release". KQED. May 4, 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  19. ^ "Our Board". Civil Rights Corps. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Arango, Tim (May 24, 2019). "Dad's in Prison, Mom Was on Parole. Their Son Is Now Running for D.A." The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  21. ^ Koblin, John (March 25, 2018). "Apple Goes to Hollywood. Will Its Story Have a Happy Ending?". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Hugo Chávez; Marta Harnecker (2005). "Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution". Monthly Review. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  23. ^ "Letters from Young Activists". Nation Books. 2005. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008.
  24. ^ "The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions — 100 Answers". Thunder's Mouth Press. 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  25. ^ "Simon and Schuster listing". Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  26. ^ Garner, Dwight (April 16, 2009). "New York Times' review". Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  27. ^ "Washington Post review". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  28. ^ Richard Gonzales, Special to The Chronicle (April 26, 2009). "San Francisco Chronicle Review". Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  29. ^ Robertson, Michelle. "Chesa Boudin wins San Francisco D.A. election". SFGate. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  30. ^ Johnson, Lizzie. "Chesa Boudin, reformer public defender, wins election as San Francisco's new DA". Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "City's new progressive DA Chesa Boudin takes office, vows to immediately change the system". The San Francisco Examiner. January 8, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  33. ^ "Chesa Boudin Lets Go Of At Least Six Prosecutors, Two Days After Being Sworn In". SFist - San Francisco News, Restaurants, Events, & Sports. January 11, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  34. ^ Sernoffsky, Evan (January 22, 2020). "San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin ends cash bail for all criminal cases". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Suzy Loftus
District Attorney of San Francisco
Taking office January 8, 2020