Cops Arrest Public Defender For Attempting To Do Her Job
from the you-have-too-many-rights,-brother.-let-me-ease-your-burden-by-taking-a-few. dept
A San Francisco deputy public defender was handcuffed and arrested at the Hall of Justice after she objected to city police officers questioning her client outside a courtroom…Here's the video:
The two responses gathered by SFGate show the divide between those who represent the accused and those who haul inconvenient people away so they can continue their "work" unimpeded.
...an incident that her office called outrageous and police officials defended as appropriate.The public defender, Jami Tillotson, was charged with the one-size-fits-all-who-give-us-any-lip crime of "resisting arrest." This charge doesn't work the way people expect it would, much to their anger, dismay and surprise. One would think that the police would need to be arresting you for a different crime and, after encountering some resistance, add "resisting arrest" to the charges. But no, apparently "resisting arrest" simply means not doing what cops say to do, no matter the legality of the request.
Tillotson was representing her client in a misdemeanor theft case. The police wanted to chat with him about an unrelated case in which he was "a person of interest." Presumably the photo-taking was part of building a lineup.
Now, the Sixth Amendment only guarantees the right to an attorney during criminal prosecution. But being a "person of interest" presents its own problems, what with it usually leading to questioning centered on gathering incriminating evidence -- either against the person being questioned or someone else on the list of suspects.
As an American citizen, you can always refuse to answer questions, especially when you're not in custody. Easier said than done, though, which is why the option of referring law enforcement to a lawyer is always on the table. Of course, police officers will try to avoid this possiblity, usually by framing the questioning as an innocuous, purely voluntary chat. They get irritated, though, when people realize this and tell them to talk to their lawyer or continually ask if they're free to go.
So, while Tillotson's attempt to defend her client from questioning related to a different crime may not have fallen under guaranteed Sixth Amendment protections, her willingness to protect her client from additional police questioning certainly falls within the bounds of what she (and her client) are legally allowed to do in a situation like this (i.e., "Talk to my lawyer.")
But the police weren't interested in speaking to a lawyer. They wanted to take pictures and ask questions without the "interference" of someone who knew how the system works. So, they arrested her for resisting arrest -- which, as the video shows, she was very clearly NOT DOING BEFORE, AFTER OR DURING THE ARREST.
Tillotson objected to the arrest, but she placed her hands behind her back and allowed police to cuff her. She never struggled or otherwise impeded the officers in their duty -- which was [WARNING: circular reasoning ahead] TO ARREST HER FOR RESISTING ARREST.
It's a mindbending, oxymoronic, ugly display of force, where might = right and anyone standing in the way of an investigation needs to GTFO. With cuffs.
Here's how Gideon at A Public Defender sums up this incident:
It’s one thing for officers to get their way by removing civilians from the scene who object to their searches and seizures, but it takes quite another level of totalitarianism and disregard for the law to arrest and make absent an officer of the court.Even the law prof [Is it impossible to get quotes from actual lawyers with "in the trenches" experience? Are there really that few of them?] quoted by SFGate -- who believes Tillotson erred by inserting herself between police and their "person of interest" -- had this to say about the PD's actions.
[Hadar Aviram] added, “Regardless of where the constitutional disposition is, the attorney was in no way being violent or resisting arrest or being disruptive in any way. It’s extreme and it’s bad press for (the police). I’m surprised.”I'm not. Many officers -- far too many -- simply don't care what the public thinks of them or their actions. The detective captured here on video is among that number.