[Hpn] Billy McManus retrial of two counts illegal camping

paula farrell paula_95814@yahoo.com
Sat, 28 Sep 2002 15:08:49 -0700 (PDT)

Sacramento Bee article about Billy McManus case
follows.  It's going worse than the article gets into.
Samuel Jackson, city attorney, makes $135,000 a year
and is followed around by entourage of staff (3 at all
times) that make $50,000 a year. Both trials will have
cost taxpayers $200,000.  But worse than that,
something strange is going on that scares me.  The
first judge was acting prejudicial about the case so
he was replace (one replacement permitted) and then
the 2nd judge wouldn't allow necessity defense.  The
amount of witnesses allowed was limited, I think to
about 3 people.  The court started Wednesday, I think
and the jury went out to decide on Friday.  We'll
probably hear Monday what the decision is, and I'll
send more information then.
Illegal-camping trial is closely watched
By Robert D. Dávila -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Friday, September 27, 2002
After losing the first round, the city of Sacramento
is prosecuting a homeless man at a cost to taxpayers
of up to $10,000 a day on charges of illegally camping
in the American River Parkway.

The legal action is the second trial for William
"Billy" McManus, who was cited by park rangers three
times last winter.

In a politically charged case that pits efforts to
protect the parkway against the needs of homeless
people who have nowhere else to sleep, a jury last
month acquitted McManus of one misdemeanor charge of
illegal camping and was hung on two remaining
misdemeanor illegal-camping counts. It is those two
counts for which he is being tried again.

In an unusual move, City Attorney Sam Jackson is
personally prosecuting the criminal case that began
Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court. The trial is
set to resume at 9 a.m. today in Department 11 before
Judge Gail D. Ohanesian.

If convicted, McManus could face a maximum of six
months in jail on each count, according to his
attorney, Kelly J. Tanalepy.

A judge who scheduled the case for trial warned city
officials that the proceedings could cost $10,000 a
day in court expenses and urged a plea deal, Tanalepy
said. A City Hall spokeswoman referred calls to
Jackson, who declined comment Thursday.

Tanalepy said settlement efforts failed after city
officials insisted that McManus admit in court that he
committed a criminal act, accept three years of
informal probation and promise to stay away from the

"That's something that the city has never required
before to resolve a citation for illegal camping,"
Tanalepy said.

City and county officials have beefed up enforcement
of anti-camping ordinances in the lower American River
Parkway, resulting in almost 900 citations issued to
homeless people last year. The crackdown followed a
public outcry over huge piles of trash left by some
illegal campers.

McManus made headlines in his first trial by
successfully challenging one of his citations last
month with a "necessity" defense, saying he had to
sleep outdoors because he had nowhere else to go. On
Thursday, however, Judge Ohanesian indicated she would
not let Tanalepy raise that argument during retrial
because the defense lawyer did not object to evidence
presented by prosecution witnesses.

Jackson rested the prosecution's case Thursday after
two park rangers testified that McManus failed to obey
warnings to leave an illegal campsite near Camp
Pollock. Ranger William Safford said he issued a
citation after finding McManus in a tent surrounded by
"500 to 600 pounds" of camping equipment and piles of
debris that filled at least 20 garbage bags.

"This was not just a day use," Safford said.

The case is being followed closely by social services
providers, who complain that the camping ordinance
unfairly makes homeless people criminals. Under
pressure to create year-round emergency beds, the
county is set to open its annual winter shelter
Tuesday for women and children, and Nov. 19 for single


About the Writer

The Bee's Robert D. Dávila can be reached at (916)
321-1077 or bdavila@sacbee.com.

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