Criminal Justice

Female Lawyer in Fistfight, Male Lawyer Arrested in Wild Restaurant Scene

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Updated: Attorney Aimee Marie Dias said she just wanted to use the women’s room at an upscale restaurant in Tampa, Florida.

But when she entered the women’s restroom at SideBern’s, at about 11 p.m. on Saturday, she said she saw a man and a woman having sex there, reports the St. Petersburg Times. The man, a local schoolteacher, contended that there was no sex and that Dias threw the first punch, at him, sparking a fight between Dias and Jodi Jacolow that spilled out of the restroom into the restaurant bar.

“According to Dias’ account, she verbally confronted the pair before she was assaulted,” the newspaper writes, relying on a Tampa police report, and a fistfight ensued: ” ‘Ms. Dias said she and Ms. Jacolow went to the floor rolling around exchanging punches, pushes, etc.,’ the report states.”

Then, as police were trying to sort out the situation, another attorney entered the fray: Brent Warren Yessin, who was waiting at the restaurant for a valet to bring him his car. Yessin recognized one of the women and went over to tell her she had the right to remain silent and have a lawyer. When police determined Yessin did not represent the woman, they told him to leave and that he would be arrested if he didn’t.

Yessin said that he had a right to be present, and later said that when he pulled out a pen to take down their names, Officer Michael Leavy grabbed him. Police say Yessin tensed his arms in Leavy’s grasp, and the other three officers joined in taking him down onto the floor.

Both Dias and Jacolow were initially arrested for battery, but agreed to drop the charges against each other. Yessin was charged with obstructing an officer without violence, and apparently jailed for four hours until he posted $1,000 bail.

In 2009, a county judge dismissed (PDF) the charges against Yessin. Yessin filed a civil suit against the city and four police officers that was upheld in a per curiam opinion (PDF) by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August.

In January 2016, the Tampa City Council agreed to pay Yessin $300,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Updated Jan. 29, 2016, to note subsequent emerging details and developments in the story.

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