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Police arrest man's lawyer for "resisting arrest" in order to interrogate him without an attorney

Constitutional rights

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(NaturalNews) America continues its steady downhill descent towards totalitarian police state status, as evidenced by the recent arrest of San Francisco Public Defender Jami Tillotson as she stood outside a courtroom trying to defend the right of one of her clients to not be questioned by police without counsel.

Tillotson was charged with "resisting arrest" for challenging police officers who were attempting to take photographs of two men, one of whom she was defending in court that day on a shoplifting charge. The other man was a co-defendant in the case.

She was instructed to stand aside while the police photographed the men, which in the opinion of the public defender, was a violation of her client's constitutional rights. When she tried to calmly explain her position on the matter, she was threatened with arrest for "resisting arrest," a charge which, as a video taken of the incident clearly shows, was completely false.

When told she would be arrested, Tillotson calmly replied: "Please do." She was then placed in handcuffs and led away.

The police officers involved apparently felt it was not necessary to inform Tillotson that they wanted the photographs taken in connection with another case in which her client was allegedly a "person of interest." They considered that they were conducting "consensual questioning" of the suspect, but since they didn't bother to inform the lawyer of this fact, she was completely justified in her challenge of their actions.

Fortunately, the incident was videotaped by a fellow attorney, and in the video it is clear that Tillotson was being bullied by the police while she was merely trying to do her job.

Since the incident, the San Francisco Public Defender's office held a press conference to express their outrage over the incident.

At the press conference, Public Defender Jeff 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."

While Tillotson was detained for about an hour, the officers proceeded to take the photographs and question the men.

Also speaking at the press conference, Tillotson had this to say about the actions of San Francisco Police Department Sergeant Brian Stansbury, who was the officer responsible for the arrest:

It was very clear to me that I hadn't been doing anything illegal. I was challenging him, telling him that you know that I know that I did not violate the law. He moved it forward.

The implications of the arrest go far beyond this single incident. When one considers that this abuse of a lawyer and her client's rights occurred in a public courthouse while a video was being taken, it's easy to imagine what police are capable of in other situations.

As Public Defender Adachi pointed out:

A uniform does not give anyone license to bully people out of their constitutional rights. 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.

A San Francisco Police Department spokesperson told reporters that the department was investigating the incident and that they "will forward this to the district attorney's office when appropriate."

As to "what is happening out on the streets," it seems that Adachi's trepidation is justified, at least when it comes to the behavior of the officer in charge of Tillotson's arrest -- Sergeant Brian Stansbury is already involved in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco regarding another incident in which he and two other officers have been charged with racial profiling.




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