Wednesday, January 28, 2015

News from the World of Public Defenders

Three stories.

San Francisco.  The City by the Bay.  The embodiment of the left coast.  Liberal mecca.

That's where Jami Tillotson plies her trade as a deputy public defender. And where, in the Hall of Justice around 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, her client and a co-defendant had just appeared on a misdemeanor theft charge.  When they left the courtroom, Sergeant Brian Stansbury, a plainclothes cop, started to question them. Wanted to take their picture.

No, said Tillotson.  This is my client.  You can't do that.  Yeah, said Stansbury.  We can, we will.  And if you try to tell us we can't, try to tell him he shouldn't talk to us or cooperate, we'll arrest you for resisting arrest.

Really.  They said that.

And she said OK.  And they cuffed her.  Took her away.  And Stansbury took his pictures.  "Try not to move," he told her client.

* * * * *
Gideon wrote this morning about Andrew Capone, a PD in Pittsbuergh, who, Liz Navratil of the Post-Gazette reported was arrested for "hindering apprehension and obstructing the admnistration of law." Seems Capone's client left the courthouse before his trial after Capone told him that the prosecutor was offering a deal that would have him spending 5-10 years in prison.  And when asked where his client was, Capone said that he hadn't seen him that day.  

Of course, the client didn't really get away with missing court.  Police found him four days later. Across the state line in West Virginia.  Dead, from what's described as "a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
* * * * *
Meanwhile, in Utah, Public Defender David Corbett asked to get off a case.  His client, who's doing LWOP after a plea to murder for killing a corrections officer, wants to withdraw his plea.  The court said no, and the client's been appealing.  He's also been running through lawyers at an apparently alarming rate.  Thing is, he keeps threatening them.  Corbett was all set to stick with him anyway, even though he didn't like the brief Corbett filed.  Jack Healy reports in the NY Times.
“He became upset with me when we filed the opening brief, and that’s when he became aggressive,” Mr. Corbett said. He told Mr. Corbett he knew how to reach people “on the outside.” A few weeks later, an envelope from him arrived at Mr. Corbett’s home. 
Corbett, of course, had not told the client where he lived.

The Utah Supreme Court let Corbett withdraw.  And then announced that his client was on his own. He'd forfeited his right to counsel.

Honest to god, this isn't how it's supposed to be.

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