Coming to Understand the Constitution

12/08/2013 - As the only non-lawyer working in our office every day, I’ve sometimes felt like I’ve awoken in another country, one where everyone else fluently speaks a language I only speak well enough to order a coffee or to ask someone for directions to the nearest museum. Thankfully, this language gap has lessened a little over time and much of the “legalese” has become more familiar. For me, this familiarity is fundamental. I’ve found that there’s a world of difference between “knowing” something and “understanding” something. Significantly, working here has shown me just how deeply this difference has applied to my perception of our Constitution. Like most people, I encountered the Constitution for the first time in elementary school. There, it existed as one of many dots on a timeline, just another date to memorize. In high school, it... Keep Reading

 

Victory for Falsely Arrested Off-Duty Cop

11/26/2013 - After over six weeks of trial, we got a jury verdict today in favor of our client, Bret Cornell, a rookie off-duty San Francisco cop who was falsely arrested for jogging in Golden Gate Park.  The case was very hard fought, because San Francisco refused to acknowledge that their officers had absolutely no reasonable suspicion to detain, and no probable cause to arrest, this good man who was one of their own officers. Once the defendant officers realized that they had caught themselves a cop instead of a crook, they decided to blame their victim -- even though he was supposed to be on their team. The City Attorney's Office did their best to smear him, even though one of the defendants admitted at trial, 'To this day, I have no idea whether he committed any crime ....' This case exemplifies how the Blue Code of Silence works, and how even a police officer is not imm... Keep Reading

 

In Trial Again

10/18/2013 - We are in trial in San Francisco right now for our client, an off-duty rookie San Francisco police officer who was wrongfully detained, arrested, and held at gunpoint by other San Francico police officers while he was going for a jog after work in Golden Gate Park. When the defendant officers realized their overzealous conduct snared another cop, not a crook, instead of admitting their mistake, they doubled down and falsely accused him of willfully resisting, obstructing, or delaying an officer in the performance of lawful duties. (Cal. Penal Code Section 148(a)(1)). This is a common charge that we see when law enforcement officers violate the law and abuse their authority. As usual, the District Attorney never filed any charges. Unfortunately, our client lost his dream job and career as a police officer as a result of this all too common event. The San Francisco Chronicle &nbs... Keep Reading

 

What is Qualified Immunity?

10/03/2013 - Last week I was in Santa Rosa teaching a seminar about "qualified immunity" to a roomful of lawyers and law enforcement officers. I like doing these seminars, because it gives me the chance to talk to police officers and lawyers who defend them in a friendly, educational setting. Qualified immunity is a defense that police officers and other public officials can assert when they are sued by federal claims for money damages. Qualified immunity protects a law enforcement officer from suit – even if he violated someone’s rights – where a reasonable officer would not have known that his conduct violated a constitutional right that was clearly established at the time of the incident. This special defense is only available to public officials. Private people cannot claim qualified immunity if they hurt someone. And you will not find "qualified immunity" anywhere in the Cons... Keep Reading

 

Welcome to Haddad & Sherwin

09/06/2013 - Welcome to our new blog at HaddadandSherwin.com Julia Sherwin and I wanted to have a place where we could share our thoughts about current civil rights issues in our community. We will also be inviting members of our team to share their own personal perspectives – about civil rights issues, and about what comes up for them in representing our clients who are fighting for justice. Our team is diverse, and not everyone thinks the same. We do however share a passion for enforcing Constitutional rights, protecting the community, and helping our clients achieve justice. We hope this blog will provide inspiration for fresh ideas, deeper understanding, and renewed efforts to make our community more peaceful and just.... Keep Reading

 
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