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UPDATE on my taxpayer-funded persecution in Fremont
I thought I would be entering a plea, but apparently that happens at my next court date, which is scheduled for this coming Friday, January 13 (same place, 39439 Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont, at 9:00 a.m., this time in department 602).
=====================================================NOTE: If you are receiving this
as an individual and not through a list,
and do not wish to hear any more about my case, please let me know
and I will not send you any future updates. Apologies to those who
receive this email more than once.
==================================================== A big thank you to the folks
who came with me to court for my
arraignment on Friday, January 7 -- Morey Straus, Francoise Fielding,
Phil Berg, Ervan Darnell, Alan Rice, and Keith (not sure
his last name). Especially Morey and Francoise for helping drive other
folks without cars (including myself).
For those who couldn't make it, here's an account of how the day went.
The good news is they did not add any additional charges beyond the
basic 647b (prostitution). I thought I would be entering a plea, but
apparently that happens at my next court date, which is scheduled for
this coming Friday, January 14 (same place, 39439 Paseo Padre Parkway
in Fremont, at 9:00 a.m., this time in department 602).
That's about it as far as the good news. While there were no outright
disasters, the rest of that day was more or less a bad joke.
To start with, the eight of us came into the courtroom promptly when
it opened, and sat in a row. At least a dozen or so other folks were
also present for various matters of their own. Before the judge
arrived, a 15 minute audio tape was played. This was actually fairly
interesting: It gave a lot of information about the process, the rights
of defendants, the different types of pleas, etc. I took notes.
Eventually the judge showed up. After taking his place, he called
defendants up one at a time to stand at a podium and talk with him. I
was third to be called. He informed me of the charge against me, and
said that I would have to take an AIDS test if convicted. (I consider
it slightly misleading that this was the only penalty mentioned, as it
could cause someone to conclude he or she could plead guilty and not
face any further repercussions.)
I had noted with interest that the audio tape stated "you have the
"right to have this action prosecuted in your true and correct name."
(They booked me under my former legal name, misspelling both parts of
it to boot, even though I had stated at the time it was wrong!) However
when I quoted this verbatim to the judge and asked that my name be
corrected to appear as Starchild, he neither acknowledged my right nor
gave me any specific information as to how to go about getting it
corrected. His response was that my former name is what they have in
the computers, as if he was powerless to do anything about it(!)
He also "dismissed without prejudice" the motion I made to have my
case dismissed on the grounds that I was arrested after 10:00 p.m., but
said I could bring that up later. This was based on someone telling me
that people can't be arrested on misdemeanor charges for acts committed
in private from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. according to Section 840 of the
California penal code. It turns out that is apparently with a warrant,
and as far as I can tell there was no warrant in my case. But it's
potentially very important, since I know they arrested me after 10:00
p.m. It's one of the reasons I really wanted to get the police report,
to see what they listed as the time of arrest and whether there was in
fact no warrant.
Anyway, the judge scheduled my next court date, and referred me to the
Public Defender (P.D.)'s office downstairs. But after filling out the
financial qualification form to be represented by a public defender, I
was told by the attorney I spoke with [Maxine Fasulis, phone (510)
795-2600] that I didn't qualify, even though I only listed making $1500
a month and a few thousand in assets. I further noted that I have a
significant expense in rent and that I had spoken with several
attorneys and been quoted rates of several thousand dollars to hire
them. Didn't matter. Maxine wouldn't even tell me what the
qualification threshold was. "That would be like giving the answers to
a test," she told me. She wasn't sure whether or not it was public
information. After being turned away, I had to persist just to get a
copy of the form I had filled out and given to them. (They kept the
original in their files without my consent even though they wouldn't
represent me.) So it looks like I'll be forced to hire an attorney
whether I want to or not.
My next quest was to try to get a copy of my police report. The judge
had said he didn't have it. I was advised to try the court clerk. The
woman there (Christie Martin) was the nicest person I dealt with in the
court bureaucracy, but although sympathetic, she was unable to do much
to help. "They used to give us the police reports, they don't any
more," she told me. She agreed it appeared the police were trying to
make it harder for defendants to get their reports. She said the
District Attorney's office might have a copy, or if not, I might be
able to get one directly from the police.
So I went down the hall to the D.A.'s office. Fortunately that was a
shorter wait than the roughly 30 minutes to an hour each for the P.D.'s
office and the line to speak with a clerk. Sure enough, the D.A.'s
office DID have my police report. I actually saw it -- mere inches away
in the hands of one of their personnel on the other side of a plastic
window. However because the constitution and the law say that
non-lawyers must be treated as second-class citizens (NOT!) they would
not provide a copy to me, the defendant and subject of the report, only
to my "attorney of record!" I told them I didn't have an attorney,
having applied at the PD's office and been told I was not qualified.
At that point I asked the woman what I had to do to be listed as my
own attorney (at least temporarily). She said I would have to fill out
a "Ferrata" (sp?) form to represent myself. Naturally they didn't have
a copy of this form. I went back upstairs to the floor where the
courtrooms are to try to get the form and have it signed by the judge.
By this time it was just after noon (we had arrived for my appointment
at 9:00 a.m., after which most of my friends had to leave to attend to
their own lives). I discovered that all the courtrooms were closed and
locked, except for one where there was some kind of proceeding going
on. As soon as I walked in, a bailiff told me to sit down, and wouldn't
let me speak with the court clerk to ask for a copy of the form. So I
Having apparently reached an impasse, I went outside to meet
Morey, we walked over to Sweet Tomato to eat lunch ourselves. Upon
returning around 1:30 p.m., I found all the courtrooms closed. Someone
I met in the hallway told me they are generally closed from noon to
2:00 p.m. That's a nice lunch break! So we waited another half hour.
When the courts opened up, the judge I had seen immediately began
proceedings, so I went into another courtroom where there was an idle
clerk, and told her the situation. She said they were a traffic court,
and the judge there couldn't help me. I asked for a copy of the form,
which she eventually admitted they had, but she couldn't or wouldn't
give me a copy. She did let me look at it, to see what it looked like.
I went back next door to department 604, where I'd been seen that
morning. The judge was engaged in dialogue with some defendants in
custody being held in a walled off corner of the courtroom, where they
spoke to him through little slits cut into the transparent plastic.
(Signs prominently displayed in the audience area helpfully let people
know they could be charged with a misdemeanor for communicating with
defendants in custody.) While the court was thus distracted, I was able
to tell the clerk I wanted to represent myself, and that I needed the
judge to sign off on the form. She said they couldn't do it because
they didn't have my file any longer -- it had been sent downstairs to
the clerk's office. However I did manage to get a blank copy of the
So it was back downstairs to the clerk's office. It occurred to me
that somebody could design a good pinball machine based on this
process. It could be called "Obstruction Of Justice." The spring-loaded
thing that you pull back to launch the balls could be shaped like a
grinning, pig-shaped police officer and labeled "Officer Friendly," and
the little silver balls themselves could be decorated with citizens'
faces and bounced around between various "departments." The object of
the game would be to cost the citizens as many points (measured in lost
time and money) as possible before they escaped between the flippers at
the bottom. Each $.75 or whatever that a player deposited would buy
another "law" which would result in 4 citizens being arrested and sent
spinning through the system one at a time by Officer Friendly. If they
put these games in the court's waiting areas, not only could give all
the people sitting around something to do, but it would serve an
educational purpose as well.
Fortunately, the sympathetic clerk Christie was still on duty. After
consulting with someone, she was able to allow me to buy ($.50 each)
copies of the two pages in my file, to take back upstairs. On the way,
I decided to try the D.A.'s office again. The woman there before had
been relatively pleasant, if uncooperative, but that was not the case
with the second woman. I showed her the form, and explained my
situation again, that I was just trying to get a copy of my police
report that day. She was abrupt and dismissive, telling me "it's not
going to happen," and that the book which I was listed in as not having
an attorney only gets updated once per day. For her, apparently even
having the judge's signature on a form would not have been good enough.
When I wouldn't readily take "no" for an answer, and said that denying
me my police report was a "denial of justice" she became upset and
demanded I "go away!"
Back upstairs. The judge and clerks were occupied, so I sat with Morey
(who had joined me inside) and waited in the audience area for another
half hour or so. When the proceedings were finished, I tried to get the
judge's attention, but he ignored me and immediately left the room.
After some back-and-forthing, the clerk took my paperwork and went back
to talk to him. In a minute, she returned and reported that he said he
"wasn't going to take any further action on this case today." When I
tried to demand what I felt was my right to self-representation, the
bailiff intervened and told me to leave the courtroom or he would take
me to jail. Having little choice, we left.
Finally, Morey and I drove to the Fremont Police Department
(FPD) to try to get a copy of my police report. Morey had phoned them
and been advised that they would sell me a copy for $10, but it would
take 7-10 business days. No doubt in reality it will take some police
lackey all of ten or fifteen minutes tops to pull and copy my file. I
thought for that ridiculous delay and price they would at least send it
to me by mail, but the not unfriendly person working the police window
(bravely ensconced behind plastic as usual) told me no -- I would have
to come back in person to pick it up. Since they didn't charge the fee
up front, I went ahead and filled out their extortionate application,
but since it looks like I'll have an attorney with me at my next court
appearance and expect to be able to get the police report then, in all
likelihood there will be no reason to bribe the police for their slower
The visit to the FPD wasn't entirely fruitless, however. I did get
some copies of their complaint form. This will be useful to attach to
the flier we distribute to Fremont residents describing how the police
are misusing taxpayer resources. I also used the lobby phone to leave a
message with the property department, asking for them to look into the
unopened bottle of wine which I had with me when arrested and which was
not returned with the rest of my property. At about 8:10 a.m. Monday
(nice time to be calling!) I got a call back from them telling me they
didn't have it, but that I could contact the arresting officer who
filled out the police report, an Officer Laing, badge #1873. I called
that morning and left him a message, but so far have not heard back.
In short, I already feel like the system is trying to grind me between
its wheels. But since this is more or less the kind of treatment I've
learned to expect from "my" government, I'm not dispirited. At least
I'm not the poor guy I met in the public defender's waiting area who
was being persecuted for meth possession. He told me they suspended his
license, and that he's had five vehicles seized from him in the past
few months and has to keep buying new cars.
Final thought: One of the attorneys I spoke with told me it costs them
about $1000 an hour to prosecute a case like mine. Of course he was
just talking about the courtroom costs of an actual two-day *trial*,
not all this preliminary hoopla. What a colossal waste.
Again I will be grateful to anyone who can join me in court this
coming Friday to show them I'm not alone and keep me from going nuts.
Those who are able to stick around can enjoy a lunch with other
freedom-lovers. If you can come, or need a ride, please call me at
(415) 621-7932. And don't forget to keep the pressure on the
politicians! (see below)
Yours in liberty,
<<< starchild >>>
Libertarian Party/SWOP Activist - Candidate for SF Supervisor, District
"Making peace with the political establishment is a sign of
complacency, not maturity."
Here again is the contact information for the Fremont City Council. A
good sample letter from a supporter is below. I hope you will write or
call them, and let me know of any responses you receive. Thanks again
for your support!
bwasserman [at] ci.fremont.ca.us
(510) 494-4895 x5901
scho [at] ci.fremont.ca.us
ddutra [at] ci.fremont.ca.us
(510) 494-4895 x5904
bwieckowski [at] ci.fremont.ca.us
(510) 494-4895 x5902
anatarajan [at] ci.fremont.ca.us
> Dear ___
> I am writing in regards to the recent entrapment and
> arrest of male model "starchild", aka Chris Fox, by
> the Fremont Police Department. I sincerely hope that
> prosecution of this case is dropped.
> My [acquaintance] lived in Fremont for ten years near
> ___ and ___ St., during which time hecould not use the
> city library because it was closedon weekends to save
> money. With the housing prices and property tax base
> of Fremont, this seems ridiculous. A recent letter to
> Fremont citizens from the police chief Craig Steckler
> says they don't have money to investigate auto thefts
> and many that law enforcement programs have been
> cut, with officers laid off.
> Yet I see that Fremont Police have enough money to
> rent a motel room and involve 5 officers [actually 7]
> in entrapping a male escort who might make himself
> available to lonely female matrons. This looks like a
> victimless crime to everyone I can think of. Even those
> who believe prostitution is not a victimless crime claim
> that prostitutes are the victims. Are the police
> trying to prevent the man from exploiting himself?
> And if the police department wishes to seize the
> assets it proves are ill-gotten gains from hookers,
> what are they gonna get from this guy except the
> return of the $100 the ladies gave him? [NOTE - no
> money was actually exchanged - Starchild] The whole
> thing is an embarrassing fiasco and waste of resources
> for which the police department should be censured.