Saturday, June 11, 2011

Judge's Extreme Sentence for Sleep ~ ~ 400 hours volunteer work plus three years' probation ~~ Turns Into Six Months In Jail

Santa Cruz Indymedia

Police State and Prisons

Homeless activist Gary Johnson and
lawyer Ed Frey jailed for six months for PeaceCamp2010's Sleep Protest
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] )
Friday Jun 10th, 2011 1:00 PM

Homeless activist Gary Johnson--repeatedly ticketed and arrested in the 3-month long PeaceCamp2010 protest against the Sleeping Ban at the County Courthouse--was sentenced to 6 months in jail and taken there in chains. Activist-attorney Ed Frey, who initiated, supported, and was arrested, during the protest was jailed at the same hearing today. Judge Gallagher refused to suspend sentencing pending appeal, denied a motion for a new trial after several jurors complained of juror misconduct, and declined to answer Johnson's question "how can I take probation to obey all laws, when you've defined "sleeping" as lodging to the jury, making it a misdemeanor crime? How can I not sleep for six months during probation?"
I got a phone call this morning from Becky Johnson who was at court for what Gary Johnson (no relation) and Ed Frey thought was a hearing on their motion for retrial in the case of four defendants (Frey, Johnson, Collette Connolly, and Art Bishof).

After denying the motion, Gallagher announced he was also holding a sentencing hearing, which may violate the rights of the defendants--since, I'm told, there has to be advance notice of a hearing. He initially sentenced Frey to 400 hours of Community Service and 3 years probation, which Frey refused. Gallagher then sentenced Frey to 6 months jail (the maximum sentence). Johnson was also given the same sentence. All this is a second-hand account from the eye-witness testimony of Becky Johnson who was in court.

Apparently the ante for those who peacefully protest the Sleeping Ban has been raised to half a year's jail time. Recent modifications in the City's Sleeping Ban law that provide for dismissal of tickets if one has signed up for a "Waiting List' at the Homeless Services Center. (See "Camping Ordinance Revisions Pass at City Council" at ).

Frey has been an outspoken and principled activist who provided nightly portapotty support for the homeless protest (a first in Santa Cruz), something even the City was unwilling to provide. He has been a regular pro bono defender of homeless victims of the Sleeping Ban like Robert "Blindbear" Facer (see "Mayor Mike Rotkin debates Ed Frey on Free Radio Santa Cruz at ).

Gary Johnson continued the principled protest against the Sleeping Ban as others tired, retired, or fell away. SCPD and Sheriff's Deputies adopted a variety of new repressive measures against him and those activists that continued the protest (see "Lights, Camera, Tickets! Klieg Lights at City Hall--Throwing Light on the Shelter Shortage" at

Frey's debate with former Mayor Rotkin can be found at .

Six months in jail (even four months for "good behavior") is likely to cost Ed Frey his law practice and his home.

Becky Johnson should be writing a more extensive account of the shocking court repression shortly.

Those interested in supporting Gary and Ed can contact HUFF at 831-423-4833 or e-mail me at rnorse3 [at] .


Linda's Hearth note: These two men are still in jail -- despite the state's determination to exit a huge percentage of incarcerated from California's overcrowded prison system. The problem came to a head when the federal government's lawsuit ordered our legislature and Governor Brown to obey a court order, because they had not been able to make health and safety changes to the prisons. Six months in jail because of one interrupted night's sleeping "crime". I hope I can join Crow on Monday morn?

1 comment:

  1. UPDATE JUNE 26: Ed Frey is out on bail after Gallagher lowered it from $50,000 to $110 (the actual bail schedule for 647 (e) violations. Gary Johnson remains jailed.


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