A deputy public defender was recently arrested in San Francisco outside a courtroom. According to police, the defense attorney is accused of interfering with police who wanted to interrogate her client.
An eyewitness filmed the incident with a cellphone videocamera. The video shows the 18-year veteran deputy public defender, Jami Tillotson, speaking with police, who wanted her to step asid. A plainclothes police inspector is seen on video asking her to move out of the way so he could take a photograph of her client with his cellphone.
The plainclothes officer told the woman that he merely wanted to take some pictures, and then her client would be permitted to leave. The attorney refused to budge. The officer then said that he would either arrest her on charges of resisting arrest, or she could step aside. The woman calmly proclaimed that she was representing her client and not resisting arrest; the plainclothes officer put handcuffs on her and she was taken away.
Handcuffed to a Wall for an Hour
A second public defender, Jeff Adachi, told news reporters that the defense attorney was placed under arrest because she would not allow her client to be questioned by police without his attorney present. Adachi later issued a press release saying that the arrest was outrageous. He said that Tillotson was handcuffed to a wall for about an hour before she was released. While she was being detained, the plainclothes inspector photographed her client and questioned him, along with another individual whose attorney was not present.
This Is Not Guantanamo Bay
Tillotson also held a press conference on Wednesday, where she said that public defenders must protect their clients' constitutional rights. She said that it was hard to believe that she was arrested for doing the same job she does every day.
"This is not Guantanamo Bay," the public defender said. "People have an absolute right to have their attorneys present during questioning."
Interestingly, the officer who arrested the public defender is currently under investigation in an alleged racial profiling lawsuit.
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