Public Defenders

See the video: PD is handcuffed in court hall for refusing to step aside for police photo of client

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Image of Jami Tillotson’s arrest taken from video provided by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

When a longtime public defender heard Tuesday afternoon that a misdemeanor client was being questioned by plainclothes police in a hallway outside a San Francisco Hall of Justice courtroom, she headed for the hallway herself.

There, as Jami Tillotson stood at the man’s side and calmly explained to police she was representing her client and objected to a police plan to take his photo, she was warned that she would be arrested for resisting arrest if she didn’t step aside. Fellow attorneys took cellphone videos as police told Tillotson to put her hands behind her back. She did, and the cuffs went on, reports Bay City News Service.

“I am representing my client here … I am not resisting,” she said as she was led away in handcuffs, a YouTube video shows. As of Thursday morning, it has received over 140,000 views.

Tillotson said she spent about an hour handcuffed to a wall in a police holding cell and was then released. She faces a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.

Her boss, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, said the arrest violated constitutional provisions and said he hopes the resisting charge will soon be dropped, the article reports.

“This is not Guantanamo Bay, you have an absolute right to have a lawyer with you when you are questioned,” Adachi said, adding that he “can only imagine what might be happening out there on the streets” when such police activity “outside the law” occurs within a courthouse.

Adachi said the client in the hallway was being represented by Tillotson in a petty theft case. Police who spotted him in the hallway were attempting to question him in an apparently unrelated burglary investigation, according to a police spokesman.

That spokesman said police appeared to have acted appropriately in detaining Tillotson for allegedly resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer trying to perform an investigation. However, deputy police chief Lyn Tomioka will be reviewing the cellphone footage of Tillotson’s arrest, which was provided by the public defender’s office, the article says.

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