'Sleep Crime' Defendant Gets Community Service
by Brad Kava, December 7, 2012
Lemaster argued that she was on the steps to support a sick homeless man who was also sleeping out in what had been a three-month long occupation called "Peace Camp" in 2010.
A jury found her guilty of violating a law against camping any property without the owner's consent, including county property, a law that some homeless advocates say denies their basic rights.
Even prosecutor Alex Byers was sympathetic, although he asked the judge to give Lemaster 40 hours of community service and three years probation. "She's a very nice person," he said.
The judge fined Lemaster $590, which she said could be worked off in 59 hours of community service.
Lemaster's attorney, Jonathan Che Gettleman, asked the judge to lower the probation to six months and hold off on the sentence until it could be appealed. He said Lemaster didn't even have the money to pay the service fees for administering the community service sentence.
Supporters passed a hat around in the courtroom filling it with bills to help Lemaster.
"There's a bigger problem and it's important to me that we all become aware of it," Lemaster told the judge. "Even elemental needs are denied them (the homeless)."
Afterwards they celebrated outside the courthouse, claiming a victory for pointing out the plight of the 2,800 homeless people in the county who have only about 400 shelter beds during the winter.
They also said they hoped this focused attention on First Amendment rights to congregate or protest.
Related Topics: linda lemaster and sleep crime