[Hpn] Begging for Justice -- John Maurer trial Friday 10AM

Becky Johnson Becky_Johnson@sbcglobal.net
Wed, 24 Sep 2003 19:59:22 -0700


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Begging for Justice

John Maurer to challenge law outlawing profanity in case of homeless man =
cited for begging for pennies while wearing "Fuck the Pigs/(police)" =
sign=20

by Becky Johnson September 24, 2003

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- He sat near the curb, on a square of concrete, =
counted carefully out, more than 14 feet from a building. The last time =
he had been homeless, he had lived on Pacific Ave. for more than a year, =
sweeping up the front of Bookshop Santa Cruz each day, and later getting =
a job working at a kiosk. Finally he had found housing.

This time was harder. The Santa Cruz Police Department had decided to =
target him.

"The last time I was homeless, I didn't get even one ticket!" he told me =
last April as we chatted in the sunshine on Pacific Ave. in front of the =
closed, Pacific Trading Company store. UCSC students, tourists, and =
local people strolled up and down past John and his white plastic bucket =
that said "UNWANTED PENNIES?" in a small, handwritten sign. There was a =
little change in the bucket, and no one dropped anything in while I =
talked with him.

"Now I've gotten four tickets in five days!" He dug out three of them to =
show me, all wrinkled and yellow with writing at times as inscutable as =
heiroglyphics. "The last one is for panhandling while using profanity."

According to John Maurer, it was a warning that prompted him to put the =
sign on his hat, handwritten on a little piece of cardboard "Fuck the =
Pigs (police)".

"I was sitting there, begging, when I saw this 89 year old lady with a =
walker struggling to get into the Palomar Hotel door. I jumped up to =
help her, and Officer Wendy Bynes threatened to ticket me for unattended =
property." He pointed to the sign in his hat. "Then Officer Phelps =
ticketed me for using profanity while soliciting."

Local Attorney, Paul Sanford heard about the case and immediately agreed =
to defend Maurer. "If Mr. Maurer had a sign that said "I love the =
police" he would not have been cited. He was ordered to cease expressing =
his opinion, apparently, because he chose to criticize the government, =
specifically the police, in a direct, emotive fashion."

On August 18th, Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone wrote =
Commissioner Irwin Joseph to request a dismissal of the case. Barisone =
wrote that "Mr. Maurer did not specifically direct profanity at =
individuals from whom he was soliciting." Sanford argues otherwise.

"John Maurer broke the law. The law is what we need to challenge. It =
says that if you solicit while using profanity you have broken the law." =
Despite the dismissal Maurer is insisting on going ahead with the trial. =
As Sanford explained "When first amendment issues are being abridged, =
you don't get to just say 'Oops! Sorry. Charges dropped.' John Maurer =
deserves his day in court."

"There is lots of case law allowing the f-word to be used," Sanford =
explained. It has been determined that use of the f-word is =
constitutionally protected free speech. The City of Santa Cruz is saying =
that while you are soliciting, you lose that right to free speech." =
Santa Cruz has recently passed a series of laws downtown, and local =
homeless advocates say they are selectively targeted at homeless people =
and youth.

Sanford said Maurer's case is part of a bigger pattern of behavior =
between the police and homeless people. "First they slap you with a =
ticket, and scare you, which causes you to suppress your voice. Then, if =
you get a lawyer and fight for your rights, they say 'never mind' and =
dismiss the case. Well, they are not going to get away with it this =
time."

City Attorney John Barisone's law firm has recently come under criticism =
for their cave-in on rent control for the 198 senior residents of DeAnza =
Senior Mobile Home Park. The City claims they have no more resources to =
fight for the rights of the seniors to keep the rent-control protections =
guaranteed by the City in their leases.=20

Critics say that the City Attorney's office is wasting its resources on =
frivilous prosecutions. Ordinances written by Barisone outlaw =
bubble-blowing, hacky-sacking, and playing a flute too near a building. =
Barisone recently prosecuted two activists for using sidewalk chalk on a =
public sidewalk. A recent spate of jaywalking citations are coming up on =
the calendar at Santa Cruz County Municipal Court. Not too long ago, =
Mayor Emily Reilly asked John Barisone to come up with ordinance =
language banning segways, the innovative "people movers" which can carry =
people on sidewalks adapting to all sorts of terrains. Reilly abandoned =
the ordinance when she discovered that no one in Santa Cruz owns a =
Segway.

So perhaps the City dismissed the charges against Maurer to save money? =
Sanford has a different theory. "They don't want this unconstitutional =
ordinance exposed to judicial scrutiny."

So on Friday, at 10:00 AM in Department 1, John Maurer represented by =
Paul Sanford will argue before Commissioner Irwin Joseph that the case =
not be dismissed. If Joseph agrees, the trial should begin that =
afternoon. The Santa Cruz County Superior Court is located at 701 Ocean =
St. in Santa Cruz, Ca.



Local Attorney Paul Sanford can be reached by cellphone at 588-0528 =
Becky Johnson can be reached at becky_johnson@sbcglobal.net For more =
info: Contact HUFF, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom at 423-HUFF =
or visit www.huffsantacruz.org


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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial>
<DIV><B><FONT size=3D7>
<P align=3Dcenter>Begging for Justice</P></FONT><I><FONT face=3D"Times =
New Roman"=20
size=3D4>
<P align=3Dcenter>John Maurer to challenge law outlawing profanity in =
case of=20
homeless man cited for begging for pennies while wearing "Fuck the=20
Pigs/(police)" sign </P></B></I></FONT><FONT face=3D"Times New Roman">
<P align=3Dcenter>by Becky Johnson September 24, 2003</P>
<P>Santa Cruz, Ca. -- He sat near the curb, on a square of concrete, =
counted=20
carefully out, more than 14 feet from a building. The last time he had =
been=20
homeless, he had lived on Pacific Ave. for more than a year, sweeping up =
the=20
front of <B><I>Bookshop Santa Cruz </B></I>each day, and later getting a =
job=20
working at a kiosk. Finally he had found housing.</P>
<P>This time was harder. The <B><I>Santa Cruz Police Department =
</B></I>had=20
decided to target him.</P>
<P>"The last time I was homeless, I didn't get even one ticket!" he told =
me last=20
April as we chatted in the sunshine on Pacific Ave. in front of the =
closed,=20
<B><I>Pacific Trading Company </B></I>store. <B>UCSC</B> students, =
tourists, and=20
local people strolled up and down past John and his white plastic bucket =
that=20
said "UNWANTED PENNIES?" in a small, handwritten sign. There was a =
little change=20
in the bucket, and no one dropped anything in while I talked with =
him.</P>
<P>"Now I've gotten four tickets in five days!" He dug out three of them =
to show=20
me, all wrinkled and yellow with writing at times as inscutable as=20
heiroglyphics. "The last one is for panhandling while using =
profanity."</P>
<P>According to <B>John Maurer</B>, it was a warning that prompted him =
to put=20
the sign on his hat, handwritten on a little piece of cardboard "Fuck =
the Pigs=20
(police)".</P>
<P>"I was sitting there, begging, when I saw this 89 year old lady with =
a walker=20
struggling to get into the <B>Palomar Hotel </B>door. I jumped up to =
help her,=20
and <B>Officer Wendy Bynes </B>threatened to ticket me for unattended =
property."=20
He pointed to the sign in his hat. "Then <B>Officer Phelps </B>ticketed =
me for=20
using profanity while soliciting."</P>
<P>Local Attorney, <B>Paul Sanford </B>heard about the case and =
immediately=20
agreed to defend Maurer. "If Mr. Maurer had a sign that said "I love the =
police"=20
he would not have been cited. He was ordered to cease expressing his =
opinion,=20
apparently, because he chose to criticize the government, specifically =
the=20
police, in a direct, emotive fashion."</P>
<P>On August 18th, <B>Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone </B>wrote=20
<B>Commissioner Irwin Joseph </B>to request a dismissal of the case. =
Barisone=20
wrote that "Mr. Maurer did not specifically direct profanity at =
individuals from=20
whom he was soliciting." Sanford argues otherwise.</P>
<P>"<B>John Maurer </B>broke the law. The law is what we need to =
challenge. It=20
says that if you solicit while using profanity you have broken the law." =
Despite=20
the dismissal Maurer is insisting on going ahead with the trial. As =
Sanford=20
explained "When first amendment issues are being abridged, you don't get =
to just=20
say 'Oops! Sorry. Charges dropped.' <B>John Maurer </B>deserves his day =
in=20
court."</P>
<P>"There is lots of case law allowing the f-word to be used," Sanford=20
explained. It has been determined that use of the f-word is =
constitutionally=20
protected free speech. The <B><I>City of Santa Cruz </B></I>is saying =
that while=20
you are soliciting, you lose that right to free speech." Santa Cruz has =
recently=20
passed a series of laws downtown, and local homeless advocates say they =
are=20
selectively targeted at homeless people and youth.</P>
<P>Sanford said Maurer's case is part of a bigger pattern of behavior =
between=20
the police and homeless people. "First they slap you with a ticket, and =
scare=20
you, which causes you to suppress your voice. Then, if you get a lawyer =
and=20
fight for your rights, they say 'never mind' and dismiss the case. Well, =
they=20
are not going to get away with it this time."</P><B><I>
<P>City Attorney John Barisone'</B></I>s law firm has recently come =
under=20
criticism for their cave-in on rent control for the 198 senior residents =
of=20
<B><I>DeAnza Senior Mobile Home Park</B></I>. The City claims they have =
no more=20
resources to fight for the rights of the seniors to keep the =
rent-control=20
protections guaranteed by the City in their leases. </P>
<P>Critics say that the City Attorney's office is wasting its resources =
on=20
frivilous prosecutions. Ordinances written by Barisone outlaw =
bubble-blowing,=20
hacky-sacking, and playing a flute too near a building. Barisone =
recently=20
prosecuted two activists for using sidewalk chalk on a public sidewalk. =
A recent=20
spate of jaywalking citations are coming up on the calendar at =
<B><I>Santa Cruz=20
County Municipal Court</B></I>. Not too long ago, <B>Mayor Emily Reilly=20
</B>asked <B>John Barisone </B>to come up with ordinance language =
banning=20
segways, the innovative "people movers" which can carry people on =
sidewalks=20
adapting to all sorts of terrains. Reilly abandoned the ordinance when =
she=20
discovered that no one in Santa Cruz owns a Segway.</P>
<P>So perhaps the City dismissed the charges against Maurer to save =
money?=20
Sanford has a different theory. "They don't want this unconstitutional =
ordinance=20
exposed to judicial scrutiny."</P>
<P>So on Friday, at 10:00 AM in Department 1, <B>John Maurer =
</B>represented by=20
<B>Paul Sanford </B>will argue before<B> Commissioner Irwin Joseph =
</B>that the=20
case not be dismissed. If Joseph agrees, the trial should begin that =
afternoon.=20
The Santa Cruz County Superior Court is located at 701 Ocean St. in =
Santa Cruz,=20
Ca.</P>
<P>&nbsp;</P></FONT><I><FONT face=3D"Times New Roman" size=3D3>
<P>Local Attorney Paul Sanford can be reached by cellphone at 588-0528 =
Becky=20
Johnson can be reached at becky_johnson@sbcglobal.net For more info: =
Contact=20
HUFF, Homeless United for Friendship &amp; Freedom at 423-HUFF or visit=20
www.huffsantacruz.org</P></I></FONT><FONT face=3D"Times New Roman"=20
size=3D2></FONT></DIV></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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