Lawyer Arrested For Defending Her Client

Lawyer Arrested For Defending Her Client

Jami Tillotson Arrest 1/27/2015

Lawyer Obstructs Injustice, Gets Arrested for Doing Her Job

 by Josh Guckert

In 1963, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states are required to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to afford attorneys of their own. However, it seems at times that such precedent has yet to take effect in many parts of the country. As prosecutors and police departments receive more funding and resources than ever, public defenders find it more difficult to represent their clients, due to a lack of comparable funding and overwhelming incentives to simply plead guilty.

However, following the release of a video from San Francisco’s public defender, it may turn out that the disadvantages of defendants that we are aware of may be only the tip of the iceberg. In the video, Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson refuses to permit a police inspector to photograph her client or question him without her being present. Under the law, police must cease the interrogation of a suspect once the suspect has requested counsel.

After Ms. Tillotson refused to yield, she was arrested and placed in a holding cell for an hour. In the meantime, the police inspector photographed and questioned her client and another man who did not have an attorney present.

The real question here is whether events like these are occurring more often, or rather that means of documenting such happenings are more abundant. It seems that nearly every day, we are faced with a new video of police overstepping their bounds and using their monopoly on force to take advantage of citizens across the country.

Even worse, it appears that the government is doing more to encourage and facilitate such abuses than to curb them. For example, in the Eric Garner case, it was the government who decided that selling untaxed cigarettes should be an offense worthy of arrest. By criminalizing so much, legislatures leave too much leeway for enforcement by police. Whether a certain law may be deemed frivolous or necessary, officers are left to enforce such regulations with whatever they deem to be the requisite tactics.

Just this month, the judiciary joined in granting more power to the police state as well. The Supreme Court ruled that when a police officer in good faith stops a vehicle for violating a nonexistent law, such a mistake gives rise to reasonable suspicion that justifies a traffic stop. Once stopped, an officer can ask the driver if he may search his vehicle. Additionally, if the officer thinks has reasonable suspicion to believe that some element used for the commissioning of a crime is inside of the car (like if he can smell marijuana), he may search without consent.

As mentioned, overcriminalization gives police the ability to pick and choose who they shall investigate and arrest. Too often, this leads to the disproportionate incarceration of the poorest Americans, many of them black and Hispanic. Because these citizens do not have the same means that the wealthiest do, they are left with few options when accused and charged with a crime.

The public defender system was devised for the very reason of protecting those who are already placed at a disadvantage. By manipulating and destroying this rare tool, governments are trampling upon the civil liberties and human rights that the Constitution is supposed to guarantee. We, as Americans, must stand up to such tyranny whenever it rears its head. Even if we as individuals may not yet have faced the consequences of an unchecked monolith of this kind, we must, by any means necessary, do our best to preserve and protect the liberty of every one of our fellow citizens.

author’s bio: Josh Guckert is a 23-year-old law student at the University of Pittsburgh. He graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 and was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. He is a 2013 graduate of Cato University, hosted by the Cato Institute, and was first drawn to the ideas of liberty by reading 1984, Brave New World and The Conscience of a Conservative.

 

 

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Austin Petersen
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  • ItsAPoliceState
    January 29, 2015, 6:16 pm

    I was in a low income neighborhood dropping someone off after work. Was almost immediately pulled over by what amounted to 8 cops(Affectionately known as the Jump Out Boys)
    Asked what I’d done wrong, officer said “Nothing please step out” searched me searched the car. Asking me 100 questions most of which were n e thing in car I asked some back. When l was let go they seemed so disappointed I was a law biding citizen they needed consoling. Those poor bastards must suck to be them. It was their entire mentality that struck a cord with me.

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  • mdwills
    January 30, 2015, 9:50 am

    You have failed to touch on the most important aspect of our Judicial system. That prosecutors are given absolute immunity while Public defenders are not. When the prosecutor lies and/or fails to turn over all of the discovery, THEY CANNOT BE PROSECUTED OF ANY CRIME! The defendant who finds out that the prosecutor has either lied or failed to turn over discovery has to PROVE the prosecutor has a long history of such activity – or – a prosecutors office has been trained and there are documented policies in place that support the prosecutor in lying or failing to turn over discovery. The amount of money and effort to research and document those past abuses is so prohibitive, IT NEVER HAPPENS. The end result is the defendant ends up with an apology. Some of those apologies happen after 20 years of incarceration and in some instances multiple years on death row!

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