Keystone cops bully public defender

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, an incident that her office called outrageous and police officials defended as appropriate.

The Tuesday afternoon arrest of attorney Jami Tillotson as she denied police officers’ attempts to take photos of her client without explanation raised questions about police intimidation and harassment, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said at a Wednesday news conference.

But police said the five officers, led by a plainclothes sergeant, were investigating a burglary case in which Tillotson’s client and his co-defendant were considered persons of interest. Tillotson was cited for misdemeanor resisting or delaying arrest because she obstructed a police investigation, officials said.

“I was arrested for what we do as public defenders every day,” Tillotson said of the encounter, which was captured in a video that the public defender’s office posted on YouTube. “I asked questions. I talked to my client and explained to him his rights. At that point, I was told I was interfering and taken into custody.”

'Simply doing her job’

Adachi said, “This is not Guantanamo Bay. You have an absolute right to have a lawyer with you when you’re questioned. Ms. Tillotson was simply doing her job.”

Tillotson’s client had just made an appearance in Department 17 on the second floor with a co-defendant for a misdemeanor theft charge when they left the courtroom and came under questioning by a plainclothes police officer at about 2 p.m., authorities said.

Other attorneys with the public defender’s office filmed the interaction, in which the plainclothes officer, Sgt. Brian Stansbury, told Tillotson, “I just want to take some pictures, OK, and he’ll be free to go.” When she declined his request, Stansbury said, “If you continue to do this, I will arrest you for resisting arrest.”

“Please do,” Tillotson responded.

“It was very clear to me that I hadn’t been doing anything illegal,” she said at the Wednesday news conference. “I was challenging him, telling him that you know that I know that I did not violate the law. He moved it forward.”

The video showed Stansbury continuing to take photos of the client and his co-defendant after Tillotson was handcuffed and led away, with Stansbury telling them, “Try not to move.”

Stansbury was one of three officers whose traffic stop of an off-duty black colleague in 2013 led the off-duty officer to file a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the city. Police officials have said the officers involved had not engaged in racial profiling.

Tillotson was handcuffed to a wall in a holding cell for about an hour while Adachi contacted San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and Deputy Chief Lyn Tomioka.

Officer called away

She was released because Stansbury, who was in court for a separate case when he spotted her client and his co-defendant, was subpoenaed to take the stand and had to leave, said Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman.

Esparza said police are investigating Tillotson’s arrest, and “the department will forward this to the district attorney’s office when appropriate.”

Adachi said he was hoping for “some accountability” from the Police Department. “A uniform does not give anyone license to bully people out of their constitutional rights,” he said. “If police are able to do this to a deputy public defender in front of her client, I can only imagine what is happening out on the streets.”

Hadar Aviram, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, said the rights of Tillotson and her client during the confrontation appeared to be “a stickier legal issue than it seems.”

The public defender’s office is arguing that Tillotson’s client had a right to counsel. But Aviram said that for the right to counsel to apply to this situation, the officers would have to be questioning Tillotson’s client about the theft case for which she was representing him.

Police officials said the officers were talking to the two men in connection to a separate, unsolved burglary case. Esparza said that investigation is also ongoing, and that the men were not arrested.

Types of detention

As for the right against self-incrimination, Aviram said the issue is whether the police interaction with the two men was a custodial interrogation, which requires officers to issue a Miranda warning informing a detainee of his or her rights.

Esparza said there are different types of detention that can range from interrogation, in which a person has a right to have an attorney present, to a casual “consensual encounter.”

“What I saw from the video was the cops asking their names and taking their pictures from angles that lead me to believe that they were putting together a lineup for another offense,” Aviram said. “Presumably they can do this, but ordinarily they wouldn’t grab you from a courtroom hallway.”

She 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.”

“A uniform does not give anyone license to bully people out of their constitutional rights,” he said. “If police are able to do this to a deputy public defender in front of her client, I can only imagine what is happening out on the streets.”

This! Phone Post 3.0

Because of her situational awareness and not pulling away or tensing up, we are not arguing with the forum retards on how it was a "good shoot".

She violated the 1st rule of being a lawyer: make sure ii's your client who goes to jail - not you.

But for real, good for her for absolutely going above and beyond for her client. People unfairly malign public defenders. On the contrary, they are often very conscientious and hard working. The problem is they have limited resources and are often overworked.

“If you continue to do this, I will arrest you for resisting arrest.”

 

Am I missing something here? Was she being arrested before he said that?

DP

Here's a Youtube comment:

 

Not defending the CS conduct of the officers here but the "resisting arrest" section of the California Penal Code is 148 which also includes "delaying and obstructing" a peace officer in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment. She was clearly delaying and obstructing them. Depending on their reason for photographing those guys they may therefore have more of a case against her than most of you here seem to think - particularly since she and her office were apparently not the lawyers for the guys being

She is legally allowed to counsel her client and it is not obstruction to do so. The police will never win this.

just rando fact - Pennsylvania is nicknamed the Keystone state

The police have every right to walk up and ask questions and take pictures, but just the same as any citizen. They have no special right to make him stand still for a picture. She also has the right to say whatever she wants to her client and was in no way obstructing them from doing their jobs. She is free to tell her clients whatever legal advice she wants.

She was just standing there, not blocking their pictures. The guys have no obligations to pose for them or anything else. Cops could have taken their pictures and gone on their way. It appears they wanted the guys to pose for them and the lawyer to move, which she has no obligation to do.

Cop is a tard, plain and simple. I hope a judge rocks his world hard for this.

.

Jack Carter - 


Here's a Youtube comment:



 




Not defending the CS conduct of the officers here but the "resisting arrest" section of the California Penal Code is 148 which also includes "delaying and obstructing" a peace officer in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment. She was clearly delaying and obstructing them. Depending on their reason for photographing those guys they may therefore have more of a case against her than most of you here seem to think - particularly since she and her office were apparently not the lawyers for the guys being


I have no background in law, but just from a common sense perspective it seems incredibly unlikely that a judge will rule against a public defender serving that client he's there with on the steps of the courthouse simply because it's a different investigation.

Imagine if some cops during the OJ Simpson trial tried to speak to OJ about a separate charge from the murder charge at the courthouse, would his high profile attorneys just backed off and said oh ok I guess we'll keep our mouths shut?

Also the defender intervened on the basis that her client had a right to counsel, and that professor is saying he didn't have a right to counsel because he wasn't arrested? Where I live I was taught that if you are detaining someone, regardless of arrest, you need to read them their rights. If a cop is telling someone they need to take their picture, and they can't leave until they do so then they are being detained. But anyways the States has different laws so I don't know what the rule is here.

While I think this was handled extremely poorly, the article describes the legal murkiness about his right to counsel. They were questioning him about a different case. She is a PD, assigned to represent him for the one case only. He was not in a custodial setting. It was not a Miranda interview and therefore had no right to counsel. He did not have to answer questions or submit to photos.

While it may sound absurd, she had no more right to interrupt their investigation as anyone else walking by. If she was a private attorney on retainer for general counsel in all matters? It would be a different story. Still, the officers had to know this would be a shitstorm and could have gone about it many other ways.

Thanks man.

Whambo, there are a lot of different legal issues in what the professor said.

You have a sixth amendment right to counsel, but only once indicted. So he is saying they dont have a right to counsel on something they havent been charged with yet.

They have a pseudo fifth amendment (known as Miranda) right to have counsel present when being detained and questioned. However, it isn't clear this was a custodial interrogation--thought the cop's words that they would be "free to go" only after doing what he wanted, is a strong indication that it was. Even if it was, the worst that happens is they cant use any answers against them later in court.

However, the two guys have no obligation to answer questions or pose for pics (the police can take their pics anyhow, but just the same as any citizen taking any pics of anyone). She advised her client of this. She could advise joe blow on the street about this if she wanted, it is never going to be obstruction to advise someone of their rights, but especially your client.

sub to watch people to defend the hero cop    *sarcasm on the hero part*

They're either being detained and they have a right to counsel or they aren't be detained and then they have a right to do whatever the fuck they want lol. It's just not explicitly written that they have a right to counsel, but when you're out in public it's your right to speak to counsel.

Stupidnewbie - While I think this was handled extremely poorly, the article describes the legal murkiness about his right to counsel. They were questioning him about a different case. She is a PD, assigned to represent him for the one case only. He was not in a custodial setting. It was not a Miranda interview and therefore had no right to counsel. He did not have to answer questions or submit to photos.

While it may sound absurd, she had no more right to interrupt their investigation as anyone else walking by. If she was a private attorney on retainer for general counsel in all matters? It would be a different story. Still, the officers had to know this would be a shitstorm and could have gone about it many other ways.

See my post above. Generally I think we agree, though she has a strong Miranda argument based on the cop saying "I just want to take some pictures, OK, and he'll be free to go." That strongly implies he is not NOW free to go--he only will be after the cop gets what he wants. That is custodial.

Even Miranda aside, she is free to counsel him all she wants. That isn't obstruction. Apparently he just wanted to take pics, he could do that all day with her standing there talking to the guy. She is under no obligation to stop talking to her client if he isn't detained--because then they are just two folks standing there talking which they are free to do. If he is being detained and questioned, then he has a right to have her there. Either way, she has a right to be there.