Thursday, July 29, 2010
Ed Frey responds to County Counsel
to: Rahn Garcia, Chief Deputy County Counsel
701 Ocean St. Ste. 505
Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060
re: courthouse sleepers
Dear Mr. Garcia,
I am responding to Jason Heath's letter of July 27th regarding the Courthouse Sleepers. In my brief conversation with him today, he told me he is leaving on vacation and that I should contact you instead.
Concerning th reason for locating the sleep-in at the Courthouse plaza, I chose that location for two reasons. First, that is where governmental power to apply Constitutional principles resides, and secondly the Santa Cruz County Superior Court in June, unilaterally postponed the three-judge appellate hearing in People v. Facer (Appellate case no. AP 001565) for three months beyond its originally scheduled hearing date., and the law's delay is intolerable here. At stake is a person's right to be left alone and free from cruel punishment when he or she is not guilty of any crime.
Mr. Heath would not answer my question as to whether County authorities will be taking any steps to obtain law enforcement action against those sleeping at the courthouse, but the County authorities are hereby notified that such enforcement action (whether carried out by City or County Peace Officers) will result in federal court civil actions against any and all governmental entities which sought such enforcement.
For far too long the City of Santa Cruz has ignored the fact that the necessity defense exonerates all sleepers automatically (unless shelter space is available, which is almost never the case). Despite this law, the peace officers, at the behest of merchants, are sent forth every night to breach the peace by waking up and hassling innocent sleepers. Infraction tickets are issued only rarely, but depriving the innocent person of peaceful sleep constitutes government-imposed punishment having an adverse impact on the sleeper's health. This mission of harassment serves the merchants' goal of keeping the houseless feeling stressed and unwelcome despite their innocence.
I urge you to read all three briefs in the Facer appeal before you or other County authorities decide to obtain such unconstitutional enforcement action. I would be happy to discuss these matters with you.
cc: District Attorney and City Attorney
tel (831) 479-8911 fax (831) 479-8174
2820 Porter St. Soquel, CA. 95073