“This is one of those drinking and camping offenses,” public defender Linda Thompson said of her client, Dena Morris. “Drinking” means she had an open container, probably a can of beer, and “camping” is a euphemism for homelessness.
You can't get into a homeless shelter if you've been drinking and if the cops find you shivering under a bush they give you a $600 ticket for “camping.” If they smell booze on you they haul you in for “drinking and camping.”
In practice, being homeless is against the law.
Deputy DA Beth Norman was in complete agreement that drinking and permanent camping was a serious offense.
Ms. Norman said, “The arresting officers were put in considerable danger, so I'm not ready to dismiss this!”
Ms. Thompson had explained that Ms. Morris generally keeps herself out of trouble, which is to say compliant enough to get into a shelter, except on those occasions like this one where she fell in with one of her homeless friends and they went out for a drink.
Apparently the cops were put in danger when they dragged the two women out of their nest in the underbrush.
Since Ms. Norman, a Buddhist who wouldn't hurt a fly, wanted Ms. Morris "punished appropriately” for camping out, Ms. Thompson said, “Well, the other suggestion would be that she do a term of 10 days, but we would ask the court to use some judicial discretion on this camping charge.”
Judge Moorman said, “I'm going to have you talk to Ms. Norman, Ms. Thompson, and see if you can agree on something appropriate.” She looked skeptically at Ms. Morris who slumped back in her seat with the other prisoners.
She then called the case of Alfredo Vizcaino. The charge was driving on a suspended license, a violation of Vehicle Code section 14601.1, plus a violation of probation. Judge Moorman sent him down to room G-2 to see if he qualified for a public defender.
The judge then called the case of Lizabeth Storer.
“Ms. Storer was issued an order to show cause; she called this morning at 7:30 and said she was on her way, but it's now 10:11 and she's still not here. I'm going to pass this for the time being and see if she comes in. Let's recall the Dena Morris matter, Ms. Thompson?”
“Yes, your honor. We reached an agreement. She'll enter a no-confidence plea and do the ten days which she already has served five. (Five days off the streets and five days to go! An Irish holiday!).
Ms. Norman sulked. She didn't like the idea that Morris's probation would terminate. It rankled her that this homeless wretch
would be off the nanny state's leash come October.
Ms. Norman said, “I'd like to reinstate the probation.”
Judge Moormon agreed. “Okay, how do you plead to the 148a1, obstructing an officer?”
“Is time waived?”
“It is, your honor.”
“Stipulate to a factual basis?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“Okay, ten days in jail and you have credit for five. That leaves you with a couple left to do. The plea constitutes a violation of probation which will be revoked and reinstated. So you are still on probation, do you understand that Ms. Morris?”
“And I want you to a careful who you hang out with.”
(Hey, can I come hang with you judge?)
“I'm going to use my discretion and dismiss the camping charge. But I want
you to obey the law.”
Ms. Selcara was called. Ms. Norman was not objecting to her release on her own recognizance. She's a longtime resident of the south coast. But the prosecutor wanted all her family's guns turned over to the Sheriff.
Judge Moorman said, “I'm going to send this over to the Ten Mile court. You need to be there Monday morning. And you cannot have any firearms in your possession while you are on pretrial release. I want you to surrender any firearms at your house to the sheriff's deputies.” Ms. S apparently has a tendency to go for the heavy firepower when she'd angered.
Ms. Norman added that Ms. Selcara should get someone else to turn the guns in. And she also wanted a search and seizure clause on the terms of release. She didn't want any Native American going around boasting that she was just as good as any other American -- i.e., enjoying Second and Fourth amendment rights.
Nicholas Redding had a complaint on file for the 11550 — high on meth. The cops have lapel pins with 11550 — Silver for 50, Gold for 100 — for busting people (tweakers). For a thousand tweakers a cop gets a platinum 11550 pin.
Judge Moorman said she was going to send Redding's case to Ten Mile court in Fort Bragg as well. But tweaker Redding's brain was fried. His teeth were gone. He had no idea what she was saying. After much detailed explanation in the terminology of a two-year-old, he was still confused.
“Okay sir. I'm going to appoint the public defender.”
“I object to the O.R.,” Ms. Norman said. I did too, but I kept my mouth shut and my pen busy.
The judge let him go.
Mr. Foote, James B., had a 647f filed on September 13 — drunk in public. Plus vandalism. Later in the day he picked up another 647f and a 148, giving the cop grief, to go with it. Sure he was on probation, so he had a violation of probation on top of the rest.
The judge appointed a public defender. Ms. Thompson entered perfunctory not-guilty pleas and a jury trial in the Ten Mile court was set for September 26. Bail was set at $1500.
Aaron Orozco had put himself on the calendar to get a re-referral for community service.
“Okay, Mr. Orozco, I'll re-refer you. Are you paying your fines? How much does he owe?”
“About 50 hours.”
“I only have 10 left to go.”
“Go to Room 209 and get it all straightened out.”
William McNeil? Where is he? Failed to appear. Ms. Norman said, “I have him on a 1210 probation on a misdemeanor. He was arrested on the 12th. It looks like the gent had a parole hold.”
Judge Moorman snapped her file shut and snapped, “Okay, I'm dropping it from the calendar.”
Mr. Vizcaino reappeared. He qualifies for the public defender. Mr. Weisel was appointed and he put the case on for entry plea on the 28th.
Margarita Pena was called and the Spanish-language interpreter, Timothy Baird, assisted Ms. Pena. She got pulled over for driving without a license.
Judge Moorman asked, “Do you have a license now?”
“Can you get one?”
“Okay. If you take care of this today, I'll reduce it to an infraction. Is
that what you want to do?”
“Do you work?”
“In the fields, the vineyards.”
“Yes. A little girl.”
“Okay. If I give you 90 days, can you pay $381.50?”
“Roland Dickey. You placed yourself on the calendar and here you are today, so I'll recall the bench warrant. Do you have a license?”
The bailiff brought the license up to the judge. She looked at it and said, "It's expired! Do you have a current one?”
The current one was brought up.
“All right. But this one is going to expire on Sunday. I want you to go to the DMV and get this taken care of. And you have a speeding ticket. What do you want to do about that?”
“Get it taken care of.”
“Are you working?”
Well, it's $281.50 and you need to pay in 60 days.”
Jose Toledo Corona, with the aid of the Spanish-language interpreter, was told he'd been cited for a number of things, including no proof of insurance. “Do you have it today?”
“No. I do not. I was trying the car out. I didn't know if it had insurance.
They took it to the lock-up. I don't know if the owner got it back.”
“Do you have a driver's license?”
“No, I do not.”
“Also, you were cited for passing on the right which is very dangerous. If you want to take care of this today I will reduce it to an infraction and dismiss the insurance if you'll admit to driving without a license and passing on the right. That's $196.50 and $376.50 for a total of $753.”
Bambi Shelly-Lynn failed to appear.
George Mansfield was called on a violation of a court order.
“Sir, you are entitled to a lawyer. Are you working?”
“What kind of work?”
“How much do you make in a week?”
“$150 if I'm lucky.”
“Okay. I'm going to appoint the public defender.”
Ms. Thompson set it out for a couple of weeks later.
Ms. Norman said, “This is an unstable divorce situation. If this happens again I'm going to ask for an arrest warrant.”
“Is Joel Skellet here?”
“Yes, your honor,” Mr. Skellet said, rising.
Ms. Norman said, “We don't have a charge.”
Judge Moorman said, “Well, that's good news for you Mr. Skellet. We don't have a file. But thank you for coming!”
“Thank you, Judge!”
Mr. Overholt? He was there, in custody, for receiving stolen property and accessory after the fact to a robbery.
Mr. Trainer, the robber, had punched a Willits man in the face and taken his lighter. Then he gave the stolen lighter to Mr. Overholt who pled guilty. Overholt will be back on October 7 for sentencing. Mr. Trainer pled to second-degree robbery, a serious felony and that means he'll have to serve at least 85% of a three-year prison term.
“This will be a second strike offense for him so there's no room left for flexibility, do you understand that?”
“Do we have a factual basis?”
“Yes. He struck the victim in the face and took his lighter.”
Sentencing was set for October 28.
Mr. Bergman was present with his public defender, Andrew Wiggins. The DA, David Eyster, called his witness, Sergeant Mariano Guzman of the Ukiah Police Department. The sergeant had arrested Mr. Bergman about 2am in the Safeway parking lot for disturbing the peace in a drunken fit.
“Did you have any trouble taking him in?”
“Yes, he put up some resistance.”
“Yes, he said he was going to find out where I lived and where my kids went to school.”
“Was he threatening you?”
“Yes, he said he was a very dangerous man and that he had a lot of time on his hands and nothing to lose.”
Mr. Wiggins asked, “Did you notice any symptoms of alcohol impairment?”
“Yes. He was red-faced, his eyes were watery and he smelled of alcohol. His speech was slurred.”
“Did he make any threatening moves or gestures?”
“He resisted a little.”
“Did he call you a Mexican and an Italian?”
“Yes. Something like half-Mex and effing Mexican.”
Wiggins said, “We'll submit on the officer testimony, but as far as this being a felony — this is someone who was drunk and blubbering and the offense does not rise to the felonious level.”
DA Eyster said, “I disagree. He's crossed the line. He says he going to find where the officer lives and where his kids go to school.”
This is somewhat reminiscent of the DUI case involving David Gurney of Fort Bragg which I covered a couple of years ago out of Ten Mile Court on the Coast. The prominent liberal environmentalist Gurney threatened to kill the Park Ranger's family when he was arrested at Russian Gulch State Park a couple of years ago. Gurney was seen wrestling with the Ranger in a drunken rage and threatened me personally with lawsuits and physical violence for printing his misadventures in this newspaper. The charges against Gurney were dropped. Bergman wasn't so lucky. Judge Moorman held him to answer, finding it especially “inappropriate” to threaten the officer's children. "It's something I do not take lightly,” she said.