SFGATE: A San Francisco deputy public defender was handcuffed and arrested at the Hall of Justice after she objected to city police officers questioning her client outside a courtroom, an incident that her office called outrageous and police officials defended as appropriate.
The Tuesday afternoon arrest of attorney Jami Tillotson as she denied police officers’ attempts to take photos of her client without explanation raised questions about police intimidation and harassment, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said at a Wednesday news conference.
But police said the five officers, led by a plainclothes sergeant, were investigating a burglary case in which Tillotson’s client and his co-defendant were considered persons of interest. Tillotson was cited for misdemeanor resisting or delaying arrest because she obstructed a police investigation, officials said.
Except by "investigation," the police mean that the detective wanted to question and photograph Tillotson's client. Her client doesn't give up his rights to decline to answer questions and to have an attorney present during a police interview because it's part of an investigation. Police interviews are always part of an investigation.
“I was arrested for what we do as public defenders every day,” Tillotson said of the encounter, which was captured in a video that the public defender’s office posted on YouTube. “I asked questions. I talked to my client and explained to him his rights. At that point, I was told I was interfering and taken into custody."
I shouldn't have looked at Youtube comments, but, since I did look, I'll mention that one persistent line of argument is that Tillotson wasn't the suspect's attorney because the police wanted to question him about a legal matter other than the one that brought him to court that day. This strikes me as complete bullshit. Can you imagine the shenanigans that would ensue if police could abrogate the right to remain silent and the right to counsel merely by changing the subject of an interview?
Other commenters decided that this was about the right of an individual, a police officer in this case, to shoot photos in a public place. As you might guess, this is a subject near and dear to me. I don't know about the rules for taking photos in a courthouse, but let's assume for the sake of argument that the courthouse is equivalent to any other public place.
You do have the right to take photos in a public place, but you don't have the right to move other people around at your own convenience. If someone obstructs your view, you can't simply order them to get out of your way. Furthermore, you can't order someone to stand in place and face your camera so that you can photograph them in the manner you wish.
Most disconcerting: if this is what a police officer does when a lawyer is present and asserting the Fifth on behalf of her client, can you imagine how that officer behaves when a lawyer isn't present and an individual declines to answer his questions?