SQUATTER acquitted on "neccssity defense" - Albany, CA landfill

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 28 Dec 1999 19:47:22 -0800 (PST)


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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/1999/12/28/state1734ES
T0071.DTL&type=printable
FWD  San Francisco Chronicle - Tuesday, December 28, 1999 14:34 PST

HOMELESS MAN CITED FOR CAMPING AT FORMER ALBANY LANDFILL CLEARED OF WRONGDOING

ALBANY, Calif. (AP) -- A homeless man cited for camping on the former
Albany landfill in violation of a city ordinance has been found innocent
after arguing that he had no alternative.

Mike Smith was acquitted of the misdemeanor charge Dec. 14 after jurors
considered what is called the ``defense of necessity.''

The basis of the defense is that lawbreaking can be deemed legal under
special circumstances, if failing to do it would pose a ``significant
evil'' and a greater danger to the accused than violating the law.

``My client had no reasonable, legal alternative than to sleep in the
landfill,'' said David Richie, Smith's attorney. Richie said Smith tried to
enter several homeless shelters, including a trailer the city set up on a
temporary basis. That facility and several others were full.

Last summer, the Albany City Council passed the ordinance in a bid to clear
scores of homeless campers from the landfill, which city, state and East
Bay Regional Park District officials are readying for parkland.

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