[Hpn] BIlly McManus' trial outcome - comment and 2 Sac Bee articles

paula farrell paula_95814@yahoo.com
Fri, 26 Dec 2003 13:49:06 -0800 (PST)

Here are text of 2 articles in Sacramento Bee about
Billy McManus.  Background:  He went to court
originally for 3 camping tickets.  Jury decided ‘not
guilty’ on one count.  The other counts, hung jury (I
think one juror saying guilty).   Kelly Tanalepe
(attorney) used the necessity defence.  Then the city
took the hung jury counts to retrial.  This time they
brought the big guns, Samuel Jackson, THE City
Attorney and his entourage to prosecute.  The Judge
would not allow the necessity defense to be brought
up.  The city quickly won.  Then those two guilty
charges, defense took to Appellate Court which they
did not win, or appeal refused (I’ll have to verify
which).  So original charges were 30 days in jail,
Stay away order for the American River Parkway and
Sutter’s Landing, and 3 years informal probation. His
most recent 6 camping tickets that Tommy Clinkenbeard,
Public Defender, was defending for Billy, was just

In the following articles Billy is accused of
“choosing to be homeless”, “service resistant”
“militant”?  He is a very pleasant man.  I asked him a
couple months ago if he had a place indoors with a
little yard for his dogs, wouldn’t he choose to live
indoors?  Of course he wouldn’t hesitate to choose
“indoors”.  It was even presented in court about
Billy’s love for his dogs, they are his family.  He
couldn’t consider abandoning them.  For what, a two
week stay in a shelter?  Poster boy for the homeless? 
Actually he has been the main target, scape goat, for
the police and rangers.  They have put immense effort
into harassing him in particular, and their efforts
toward assuring Billy lost…. I  haven’t gotten the
final estimate of how much it cost the city to fight
Billy this hard, but we got intelligent estimate
before that it would cost them, probably $200,000 in
the end, and I don’t know if that is including Samuel
Jackson’s salary portion.  Do you think they may have
considered that for $200,000 they could have bought
Billy a nice, nice house with a big yard, outright? 
They never offered him any service that would have
gotten him and his dogs indoors.  I haven’t talked to
him today, so I haven’t confirmed if he will
definitely have to go to jail.  I’ll try to find out
if his dogs are alright, too. Here’s the two articles
(photos and article can be viewed at www.sacbee.com)
(letters to editor can be sent to jhughes@sacbee.com)
I’m crying:

Camper claims bias by sheriff
The homeless man will ask a judge to order that he be
allowed in a work program.
By Ramon Coronado -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Wednesday, December 24, 2003
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breaking news. Sign up here.

A man convicted and sentenced for illegally camping in
the American River Parkway is claiming he is being
discriminated against because he is homeless.

William "Billy" McManus wants to serve his 30-day
sentence in an alternative sentencing program run by
the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, but he has
been turned down.

This morning Superior Court Judge Gail D. Ohanesian
will be asked to order sheriff's officials to
reconsider their rejection of McManus for the work
project program. If Ohanesian rejects the request,
McManus must report to jail Friday morning.

"He is being discriminated against because he is a
member of a group the Sheriff's Department has decided
to discriminate against," said Kelly Tanalepy,
McManus' court-appointed lawyer.

Sheriff's Sgt. Scott R. Jones, who is also a lawyer
representing the department, said McManus'
homelessness is one of a host of reasons why he does
not qualify for the program.

"The providence of the suitability for participation
in the program lies with the Sheriff's Department and
not with the Superior Court," Jones said. "Not having
a residency or a contact person is one of a number of
reasons for his unsuitability."

McManus, 51, was convicted in September 2002 in his
second trial on charges of illegally camping along the
American River in violation of the city of
Sacramento's anti-camping ordinance. His first trial
on the misdemeanor charges ended in a deadlocked jury.

City Attorney Samuel Jackson prosecuted the
politically charged case, which challenged crackdowns
on homeless people who camp illegally in the parkway.

Sentencing had been delayed pending an appeal of the
conviction. McManus lost his appeal last month.

McManus has two prior illegal camping convictions and
two prior drug convictions.

In sentencing McManus to 30 days in jail and three
years' probation, Ohanesian recommended that the
sentence be served through the work project program,
which rejected him.

According to sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Lou Fatur, about
1,700 people annually serve their sentences picking up
trash, raking leaves or doing various other civic
functions through the work project program.

The purpose of the program is to relieve jail
overcrowding and help minor offenders keep their jobs
while serving punishment for their crimes.

"We are very accommodating, but we can only go so
far," Fatur said.

There is about a 10 percent rejection rate among work
project applicants for various reasons, he said.

Jones said having a home with an address, a telephone
or some sort of contact person is needed for several
reasons. Work assignments change and program officials
may need to notify someone of the changes. One in four
participants abscond and must be located in a timely
fashion for possible rearrest, he said.

In court papers filed in response to the defense
requests, Jones said McManus, who has arthritis in his
lower back and legs and takes prescription psychiatric
medications, "would be physically and medically unable
to perform" the work required and has "absolutely
refused to provide a suitable contact or residency

McManus has been determined to be "service resistant"
by the public safety subcommittee of the Sacramento
County and Sacramento City board on homelessness,
Jones said in court papers. The term has been defined
as any person who makes a "conscious choice to
unlawfully live on the streets, along the river or
other public or private places," Jones wrote.

Because of his "choices," his "absolute unwillingness
to avail himself to any services," his "medical
limitations," and his "militant defiance to establish
a residency," McManus is unsuitable for the work
project program, the court papers said.

"Mr. McManus is endeavoring to be the poster-child for
homeless rights," Jones wrote.

Tanalepy accused Jones of confusing the issue with
speculation and innuendo. "The United States
Constitution does not permit conditioning the right to
participate in a work-release program on a defendant's
poverty," she maintained in her request.

The defense attorney bristled at the characterization
of her client as someone who wants to be poster boy
for the homeless.

"He has had ups and downs since he was child. He left
school in the seventh grade after his mother died,"
Tanalepy said.

"He served four years in the Air Force, he married and
he divorced. He has worked off and on for nearly all
his life," she said. "He has rented and he has slept
at the river when he had no place else to go."

About the Writer

The Bee's Ramon Coronado can be reached at (916)
321-1191 or rcoronado@sacbee.com.

Homeless man didn't face discrimination, judge says
By Ramon Coronado -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Thursday, December 25, 2003
Get weekday updates of Sacramento Bee headlines and
breaking news. Sign up here.

A homeless man who claimed he faced discrimination
because of his poverty was ordered Wednesday to serve
his 30-day sentence for illegal camping on the
American River Parkway.

William "Billy" McManus, 51, wanted to serve his term
in the sheriff's work project instead of jail, but
sheriff's officials rejected him for what they said
was a "host of reasons."

"There is no competent evidence that the defendant was
rejected for work project due to poverty or
homelessness," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail D.
Ohanesian said in a written opinion upholding the
sheriff's position.

In asking the judge to reconsider, defense attorney
Kelly Tanalepy brought up the holiday season and
started to read from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas
Carol" when the judge ordered her to stop.

"I'm hearing you calling me Scrooge!" Ohanesian said
in a stern voice.

Tanalepy subsequently asked the judge to reduce or
postpone the sentence because it was "cruel and
unusual punishment," but the judge refused.

If he behaves in custody, he could be out of jail in
16 days, the judge said of McManus who will begin his
sentence Friday morning.

After the morning court hearing Tanalepy said she will
come back to court Friday before another judge to seek
a postponement of the sentence pending an appeal.

Tanalepy maintains that sheriff's officials, who run
the work project program, told her client it was
policy not to admit the homeless into the alternative
sentencing program. The program relieves jail
overcrowding and allows non-felony offenders to keep
their jobs while making amends for their crimes.

In court, Sgt. Scott R. Jones, who is also a lawyer
representing the Sheriff's Department, denied that
there was such a blanket policy. Of the 1,700
participants annually, there are some who do not have
traditional residences but are reliable and keep
deputies apprised of their whereabouts, he said.

When McManus was interviewed for his eligibility for
the program he showed what Jones described as a
"militant defiance to establish a residency."

The judge, who presided over the trial where McManus
was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of illegal
camping, said the defendant may be homeless by choice.

"The evidence at trial was that some people, including
this defendant, may make a voluntary lifestyle choice
to not maintain regular employment and to live in a
tent," the judge said in her written opinion.

Afterward outside of court, Jones accused Tanalepy and
McManus of attempting to inflate the significance of
their case.

"This isn't a case about the homeless. It is about Mr.
McManus," Jones said.

The defense attorney said the judge's decision sends
the wrong message to the homeless community and its
advocates who are fighting to decriminalize

"They are very afraid of the justice system," Tanalepy

About the Writer

The Bee's Ramon Coronado can be reached at (916)
321-1191 or rcoronado@sacbee.com.

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