Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lemaster Lodging 647(e) Trial: sentencing and BIG thank-yous

Thank you for so many friends who came to my Sentencing Hearing on Thursday, December 6th. I was honestly blown away by the tremendous display of community support.

Someone counted 59 witnesses behind the bar in courtroom.dept #5, as Judge Rebecca Connolly heard both sides' wishes about sentencing. My attorney asked the judge for less than the DA's three years' probation suggestion, then two women, Betty DeValcourt and Sherry Conable, talked to the judge about my work and how they see me.

I tried to suggest a perspective to the judge suggesting we all remain our brothers' keepers regardless the laws of the land, regardless the arms of the state, but it didn't come out quite that plainly.

I have never before felt so treasured in my life, because of everyone's presence and support. The group's presence -- perhaps the sensation of a united community witness -- even got the judge to say something nice.

The gathering outside of court (in the Atrium) warmed my heart. I was sad to have been diverted to a radio news interview (Valleho, about economic justice) before getting a chance to greet and truly respond to each and every person there. But I had committed to the call-in days' before. My attorney shared a summary of what had proceeded in court, and spoke about the constitutional concerns.

For those who weren't present in court and didn't catch recent press (Friday's SC Sentinel; online, w/photos) here's my sentence for being found guilty of lodging outside the courthouse at night in Santa Cruz on August 10, 2010.

A fine (including assorted court fees) of $590 as "punishment" for imputed consequences at the PeaceCamp2010 demonstration, and six months' court/informal probation To oversimplify, the court says I must pay for the alleged smell of urine. and and for County's expenses due to not having any sort of public safety plan, nearby to PeaceCamp2010

The hardest part for me was being required to promise to "obey all laws", the terms of the probation, a conundrum of a promise when one has been attempting to do so all along, and one realizes how difficult it can be. In fact, the Lodging law as handled here, is a great example of such a double bind, because there was no way to discern how to obey it without either breaking other laws, lying, or abandoning certain civil and natural human rights. The most pertinent ones legally are the First and Fournteenth amendments to our U.S of A. Constitution. Though Judge Connolly can decree in the courtroom that these bodies of law exist in parallel universes, where the rubber meets the road, I found no roadmaps, no such indicators, not even a sign on the glass doors nearby.

Thank you to everyone for much great help. Thank you to my Clearness Committee, where I worship, and for all the tenderness helping me to face a few decisions. Thank you everyone for the India Joze benefit celebration last weekend sponsored by HUFF and the SantaCruzEleven, and to the chance to have fun in spite of myself, and the warmth of everybody who came. Big, big huggellyish thanks to everyone who has written letters or emailed or called the judge on my behalf, from Jennafer's letter wrapped in great organizer tips to Sherry C's petition with over eighty signatures from our community, and everyone else's in between. Thank to my personal and close friends: to Andy and Becky and Coral and Laura and Harriet-- I could not have been grounded enough to do this stuff for weeks and even years without you and all your support.  

Thank you to my mentors and teachers, now gone. They have included Mitch Snyder,  Jane Imler, Ellie Foster, Bill Everson and Shannon Casamo and Linda Edwards and many others who were able (and willing) to reach in past my own self doubts and self contempt and offer an anchor or compass or challenge or whatever was needed at crucial times. Or to simply remind me that we humans are loving creatures when I forgot. My list is not complete, but I have to wrap this up.

Now we are considering an appeal of the trial. 

My attorneys, Jonathan Gettleman and Eric Nelson, and several others I've contacted recently, particularly Bob Taren of the local ACLU,  feel strongly (as I still do) that California's p.c. unlawful lodging 647(e) just doesn't fit under the mantle of our US Constitution. If exploring this question more deeply can be the purpose of appealing thhe trial, I'm all for it. I hope appealing this issue while Ed Frey and Gary Johnson are working in the courts because of the same law, maybe this can be a way of expressing solidarity with their efforts. My  driving concern is exactly the manner in which it was applied here in Santa Cruz in 2010, and has been used in Oakland and other California gatherings. It is used to prey on homeless people and their allies. Clearly such application is too arbitrary and too vague to have anything to do with human dignity or simple fairness. 

I have a story to share about the trial and what I have been learning, but for now I need to tamp down this flaming concern for what happens to homeless folks, and feed the flame of my own hearth, for a bit. Along with the court and a few other committments has come wide and deep social immersion, I'm on overwhelm as a result. 

May this Christmas and holiday season be a wonder for everyone, and a much needed respite and recharge for lighthouse Linda.

Then, on January first, I plan to mail a letter to our representative Bill Monning about the Lodging law. Maybe we will even have some bit of a plan of action by then? Wondering if others want to sign onto it?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment. Comments which are abusive, libelous, threatening, or otherwise objectionable may be removed by the editor. Comments which remain posted may or may not reflect the views of the editor. I welcome your comments, suggestions, critiques, and updates.