News Release

Detention of Public Defender "Unconscionable;" Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Stands With San Francisco Public Defenders

Washington, DC (January 29, 2015) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) supports San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson, the entire San Francisco Public Defender Office headed by Jeff Adachi, and public defenders everywhere who under the most challenging of circumstances each day work to zealously represent their clients. On Tuesday, it appears in this video that Ms. Tillotson was arrested and detained, in the courthouse and in front of her client, for doing her job. It has been reported that the police allege she was resisting arrest. Of course, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides her client, in fact all accused persons, with the right to counsel. Intimidating, and indeed arresting, any attorney for discharging their Constitutional duty to their client is incompatible with that right.  

NACDL President Theodore Simon said: "The handcuffing and detention of defender Jami Tillotson was unconscionable and should never have happened. The right to counsel is a core Constitutional value that we cherish in this country. It is my fervent hope that whatever steps need to be taken to ensure this kind of police action does not repeat itself are promptly taken. And moreover, I would like to believe that the situation will be rectified on principled grounds and not just because of the cell phone video of this shameful conduct having gone viral around the globe."

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Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or for more information.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.