Today’s Legal Deathmatch: Bellerophon Jami Tillotson vs. Chimera Police Inspector Brian Stansbury

Today’s hero of UA probably never wanted the spotlight, as she quietly and professional performed her duties today as a Public Defender in San Francisco. However, she has it, and it’s a good thing.

In short, thank you, Jami Tillotson. You responded perfectly in every way. You have our respect. Permanently. You’re a hero.

Of course, for every Bellerophon, there must be a Chimera.

That honor goes to POS Police Inspector Brian Stansbury, who directed that Jami be arrested because she acted to protect her client’s rights. He cited “resisting arrest” as Jami’s dastardly party foul, despite the fact that he was not conducting an arrest.

So, let’s break this down:  Nobody was under arrest, until somebody resisted a nonexistent arrest. Clearly, this rule was devised by Dean Vernon Wormer.

OK, OK. We realize that the “resisting arrest” statute in CA is a bit broader than most realize. Fine. Was Jami behaving in a way that obstructed Stansbury from performing his duties? Sure. That’s what attorneys like Jami are supposed and sworn to do.

If you don’t believe me (and you probably should not), just watch the tape. (Below)

As an aside, I commend everyone on Jami’s team for the way they behaved in this tape. I would’ve been louder, and, potentially, much more…….. Well, let’s just say I’m a bit more of a hot-head.

As another aside, what was Stansbury waiting for? A glamor shot? Why didn’t he just snap a picture? But I digress.

So, let me be much more succinct about my opinion of San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Stansbury.

San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Stansbury is an idiot.

San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Stansbury does not know or understand the law. Therefore, he isn’t competent to do the job the people pay him to perform. If he does understand the law, he blatantly ignored it for his personal benefit and pleasure, thus actually betraying those he is sworn to protect.

San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Stansbury should not be allowed to walk away from this situation professionally unscathed.

San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Stansbury does not deserve the trust or respect of the people of San Francisco.

“Justice” (per my skewed definition of it) is best served by sentencing San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Stansbury to be chained to a witness chair and subjected to a cross-examination train run by every member of the SF PD Office and Defense Bar. For a police officer, there’s no lower circle of hell.


Mailbag: Soliciting Creative Responses

Let’s reach into the mailbag:

Dear Eric:

I have a solo practice, and that means that I answer my own phone on most days. Something has been happening on a regular basis that really makes me angry.

I’ll answer the phone, and a potential client will begin to tell me about his/her case. They usually want to tell a long story, but I always try to focus them on what I need to know in order to provide them with a good estimate of legal fees. Most of the time, after hearing my fee, they either try to milk the conversation for as much info as I will give them, or they exit the call.

Before hanging up, they will ask “Now, what was your name?” I’m always shocked by this, as they are the ones who called me! None of them ever call back. I feel like I should answer this question in a decisive, yet creative way.

Any suggestions?

With genuine legal love,

Penelope in Paxico


Dear Penelope:

Let me break this down for you.

First, as a solo with no clients, answer the phone all you want. After all, what else are you doing with your time? This provides you with an opportunity to practice your phone skills.

After you earn your first client, stop acting as your own receptionist. No, really. Stop it. It will pull you away from the person/people who deserve your time the most. As you’ve probably already learned, the calls will come awkwardly, and most will have the subconscious goal of sucking as much information out of your brain as possible. Only your clients deserve the information in your brain. After all, they value what you know. That’s why they pay you.

Either pay someone to answer your phone or let voicemail receive the calls and return them at a predetermined time when you will not be pulled away from the people whom you owe your time.

As to your final question, welcome to the private practice of law. You’ll get calls from all types. Nice types. Fraudulent types. Angry types. Scared types. Delusional types. Flirty types. Normal types. Crazy types. Lots and lots of crazy types. Some will overcome the barriers you establish and try to pry information from your brain for no compensation. They don’t care who you are. They just want info.

Let me say this again: They don’t care who you are. They just want info. This means they see paying you for anything as a waste of money. They’d rather pay for a subscription to a low-budget adult website. You’re just a warm body who (presumably) owns a suit. That’s it.

So, do you really need cathartic relief that badly? Do you really need to reply to them in some way that conveys your feelings of disgust? Is it really worth it?

I say just give them your name and wish them good day. The sooner you end the conversation, the sooner you can move forward with the rest of your life. Creating hard feelings gains you nothing–even the moment of catharsis is fleeting.

Yours extremely platonically,



Note to everyone else: Can you think of a witty (and ethical) way to respond to the “What was your name again” callers? If so, put your idea in the comments below.

Adventures in Potential Clients, 6 January 2015

Picture, if you will…

A conversation just occurred (in reality, it happened months (and perhaps years) ago) in which I gleaned the most important aspects of the potential case: the general issues presented, proper venue, and time/travel/expenses necessary to effect representation. Fees are explained, including fees for consultations. 15 minutes have been spent on the phone.

Potential Client: But, don’t you want to know more about my case?

Me: You already told me everything I need at this point. I know the gist of your case and what we generally need to do. If you’d like a consultation, I’d be happy to arrange the paperwork and payment methods.

Potential Client: But, can I talk to you more about it?

Me: If we have a signed representation or consultation agreement and settle payment, we can talk at length about all the details. Plus, I will ensure the consultation occurs on my schedule when enough time exists for a thorough discussion of your case.

Potential Client: But, what about now?

Me: This isn’t a good time. I assume you want to think a bit more about whether you want to hire counsel.

Potential Client: I want to talk to you about my case.

Me: I don’t think I’m the right lawyer for you.

Call Log: It’ll save your ass.

There are many tips for young lawyers floating around out there. Some are great. Some suck. This is one of the former.

Keep a log of all calls. Make it as detailed as possible. Take time after each call to review what you wrote. It should be a notebook or other “analog” means. Digital logs can be great, but they often take time to access and set up. Availability is the key. Function is more important than form. Never throw it away.

Why am I saying this? Mine just saved my ass twice today.