News Clips

April 28, 2010

Saving the Life, Heart and Soul of the Law

PATH Poverty Insights | By Cali Zimmerman


One night Paul Freese, the director of litigation and public advocacy for public interest law firm Public Counsel, stopped by Von's to grab some food on his way home from work. There was a young homeless man sitting in front of the store, quietly munching on a crust of bread. Blue lights flashed in the parking lot and, when Freese turned to see what was going on, police officers were approaching the young man.

They shone lights in his face. Their weapons were ready. They said the young man was loitering illegally.

"I told them I was an attorney, and I didn't see any signs posted against loitering so it wasn't illegal," Freese said. "I wouldn't interfere with the police, but I figured I would be a witness to what was happening."After Freese asked some more questions, the officers said that someone had made a call to complain about the young man's presence, and that all they really wanted was for him to move along. Freese believed the man's rights were being violated, and was willing to help defend him. But the only way he could do so was if the man first allowed the police to arrest him.

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