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View other events for the week of 8/ 3/2010
City Circus Back In Town: Sinister Sidewalk Singing Trials Resume
Date Tuesday August 03
Time 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location Details
Food and demo: 9:30 AM in front of the County Courthouse on the steps at PeaceCamp2010 at 701 Ocean St.

Trials: 10 AM in the basement of the adjacent County Building in Dept. 10 next to the law library.
Event Type Court Date
Organizer/AuthorRobert Norse
Emailrnorse3 [at]
Address309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
The Facer/Norse trials resume from where they left on July 20.

For more background, see ""Unreasonably Disturbing Noises" Trial Continued for Robert Facer and Robert Norse" at

and "More Sidewalk Singing Tickets Go to Trial " at

The issue is whether the police and city attorney will continue to crack down on street performers and political activists at the whim of a private complainant using the pretext of "unreasonably disturbing noise".

The City Attorney's involvement seems to be part of a new legal attack from above.

This includes a gala city-funded $50-100,000 campaign to criminalize sleeping for two homeless musicians in a Civil Injunction hearing.

As well as a ludicrous "walk in a parade without a permit; get a citation" action against activist Wes Modes. See "Stop Legal Warfare Against Homeless & Activists" at

At the same time, the City Attorney's office is busy creating new repressive laws against"criminal" sitters, sleepers, and street performers who ignore the abusive tickets being given to run them out of town.

See "Nasty new ordinance making Sleeping Ban Tickets misdemeanors" at

The Facer/ Norse trials were continued from three weeks ago when Facer's attorney Ed Frey and Robert Norse presented a motion to quash the trial. This prompted Commissioner Kim Baskett to suspend the trials for 3 weeks to give the City Attorney's office time to respond.

Frey and Norse argued that because the state penal code's Disturbing the Peace "preempts" the field.

If the motion is granted (which is unlikely) the trials would be halted and the city attorney would have to file (or have a D.A. file) a "Disturbing the Peace" charge under PC 415.

This, according to Frey, would require the prosecution to prove " a clear and present danger of creating violence" or "a specific intention to disrupt or annoy others".

Since Commissioner Basket has sentenced others in the past under the UDN ordinance, I find it unlikely she would have the courage or independence to grant the motion--however valid it may be.

We are also planning other constitutional arguments--as well as a tasty morning munch-a-long, compliments of India Joze master chef, Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz.

Songs and speeches may also slurp out onto the sidewalk.

PeaceCamp2010 may also be speaking on some of its issues.

The show begins at 9:30 AM at PeaceCamp2010. All are invited.
Added to the calendar on Friday Jul 30th, 2010 9:24 AM
The Sinister Sidewalk Singing Citation Circus:

Tuesday August 3 10 AM Dept. 10
in the basement of the County Building 701 Ocean St.
Music & Munchables 9:30 AM in front of the Courthouse 701 Ocean St.
Robert "Blindbear" Facer, a homeless street musician, and Robert Norse, a housed activist and long-time supporter of homeless civil rights, go to trial for violation of MC 9.36.020. Attorney Ed Frey, founder of the PeaceCamp2010 protest will defend Facer; Norse will defend himself.

This law used against the political protesters bans daytime “unreasonably disturbing noise” [udn] that is “unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying to people of ordinary sensitiveness or which are so harsh or so prolonged or unnatural or unusual in their use, time or place as to cause physical discomfort to any person, and (b) which are not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted.” The noise banned is singing.
§Same Old Song: Trial Continued Until September
by Robert Norse Tuesday Aug 3rd, 2010 8:57 PM
The trial was postponed until early September because the Commissioner Baskett's court staff had failed to verify that their recording equipment was working.

Commissioner Baskett disrespectfully kept over a dozen people waiting for two hours in the process.

A Deputy City Attorney, Sean Reilly, and Officer Schonfeld showed up in the City's continuing struggle against Sinister & Subversive Sidewalk Singing.

Baskett indicated she'd probably rule against our motion seeking to have the case dismissed because state law overrules the city ordinance and preempts the field. That motion will be argued when the afternoon trial resumes next month.

We estimate the City has spent thousands of dollars on briefs, court appearances, and the like so far. All in a case that involved rather standard sidewalk singing in a low-key homeless protest in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz.

The key issue for me continues to be the City's abuse of the Unreasonably Disturbing Noise (UDN) ordinance in order to drive away musicians at the whim of a private complainant.

Drummer Brent Adams had his Unreasonably Disturbing Noise citation postponed for several weeks when he'll see if he can find an attorney to take the case.

PeaceCamp2010 resident, drummer, and feather-hatted activist Robert Facer was due to have a charge of "sitting within 14' of a phone booth" dismissed, according to an earlier statement from Baskett in the afternoon. The charge was the final chapter of the day in the harassment march forced on the Drum Circle when it was driven away from the Elm St. Parking Lot several months ago.
§Trial to Resume September 2nd 1:30 PM Dept. 10
by Robert Norse Tuesday Aug 3rd, 2010 9:06 PM
The Singsong Trial will resume at 1:30 PM on September 2nd.

Robert Facer's "sinister sitting" citation was not dismissed, according to a recent e-mail from PeaceCamp2010. Rather it was "continued" until 10 AM on September 2nd.

Another example of Commissioner Baskett's saying one thing and doing another. (She advised us in court that she'd be dismissing it in the afternoon; advised us we could have a continuance if we needed it because of the witness problems she'd created by delaying the trial, but then held us all for an hour and a half until she finally agreed to do what she said---after we'd huddled with the City Attorney to force the issue.)

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Robert Norse (and Sean Reilly)
Monday Aug 16th, 2010 2:48 PM
I repost here what I just read today on indybay. Sorry I didn't see it before. I had previously left two messages on Sean's answering machine, so he has my number, but hasn't chosen to contact me. I hope he will.

Here are his comments and mine on the "Sinister Sidewalk Song Citation" case

The Truth Is......
by Sean Reilly
Wednesday Aug 4th, 2010 6:31 PM
Robert- you should know that I am not "a light day sleeper" as you stated, nor did I leave the window open on 1-6-10. This all came out at Becky's trial. What also came out and is the truth is I had my window closed, my air conditioner turned on and my television turned on (on low) -all in an attempt to drown out the ridiculously loud singing/music that had gone on for several hours before I finally called the police. I also know you know that I work nights 6-7pm until 4-5am, six days a week (that's why I was trying to sleep during the day), as this too came out in Becky's trial. I have no problem with you using my name and discussing me in a forum such as this however I do insist you stick to the truth and the facts at hand- Many of which I'm certain you're well aware of. You really don't need to resort to half-truths to make your point.

by Robert Norse
Monday Aug 16th, 2010 2:43 PM

During Becky Johnson's trial, I was out of the room for some of your testimony. As Judge Almquist did not allow us to record the proceedings, I had to rely on second-hand information. I accept your account that you had the window closed, your air conditioner turned on, and your television turned on low. And I apologize for any misimpressions here. I do have, to be honest, a different picture of what went on that afternoon that you did.

I would ask you, for instance, Are you still claiming that our singing went on since 11 AM, as you claimed in Johnson's trial?

At that trial you acknowledged that you made no attempt to let us know that anything going on under your window was disturbing you. I appreciated your honesty here. But don't you think it's unrealistic to expect us to anticipate your needs? We had performed and petitioned many times in that spot without any complaints from you.

And you told me afterwards that you regretted the situation, which I also appreciated. As well as the fact that you yourself had been homeless and said you had nothing against homeless protests.

You said further that had you known that Officer Schonfeld had misinformed you, you wouldn't have filed a citation. Shonfeld knew (and the audio tapes document) that (a) we'd stopped singing when she interrupted, (b) that we never started again & (c) that Johnson was trying to find out how softly we needed to sing to be legal. Apparently annoyed that we kept pressing her to give us some idea of how loudly we were allowed to sing, she misinformed you that you had to write out a citation to get us to sing more quietly.

As I said to you after one of the other hearings, letting us know of your concerns would be the best way to get mutual cooperation. It's possible there still would have been problems, but with better communication, that would have been and will be less likely.

You know that your window is directly above the City's "Exemption Zone" in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz and so a frequent spot for protest and song. Involving police and the city attorney in this matter, in my view, tends to muddy the issue considerably.

If you are sincere in your claim that you this isn't politically directed against the protest--concerned with homeless deaths in 2009--I'd encourage you to consider again dealing with this matter more directly instead of serving the city attorney and police department's interest--which does have an axe to grind in this matter.

I think this matter may have a large element of misunderstanding and miscommunication in it. But I also believe that police are regularly misusing the Unreasonably Disturbing Noise ordinance to drive musicians away rather than ask them, as they should, to perform or sing more quietly.

We were able to sing and petition in the late Spring apparently able to both protest and not cause unreasonably disturb you or anyone else in the area. I would prefer to continue on this path, rather than proceed through a protracted court battle. Please feel free to call me (423-4833).

Assuming your sincerity on the homeless rights issue, if you have no interest in interfering with protest activity, I think an out-of-court resolution would be a good thing.
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