Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Public defender sues for arrest while trying to represent her clients

Back in January several outlets reported on an incident in San Francisco involving an arrest of a public defender which was caught on video.  Today, the ABAJournal.com is reporting that she has filed a complaint against the city and the police department.

Given that the incident was caught on video, the facts are easy to observe.  The plaintiff's clients were in court that day for a hearing related to a misdemeanor robbery charge.  While hanging out with their lawyer (the plaintiff) in the hallway, a police officer approached them to talk about another case and said he needed to take photos of the clients.  The lawyer objected and the police officer then told her she would be arrested "for resisting arrest."  That is a curious charge, since the police had not said they were going to arrest anyone.  In other words, the lawyer was not interfering with the police's attempt to arrest her clients.  She was also not resisting her own arrest since the police was not trying to arrest her.  Bottom line, the cop essentially said "let me do what I want to do here or you will be arrested."  And that is exactly what happened.

From what I can see, there is basis for a claim of false imprisonment here, but it is not clear what is the level of damages.  The claim, however, is apparently not for common law false imprisonment but for violation of civil rights.

Here are two videos.  The first one is the original video capturing the incident.  The second one is a report from a local TV station.

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