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Verdict Due in Singsong 2 Trial
Date Tuesday September 21
Time 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Location Details
701 Ocean St. Basement of the County Building Dept. 10 the Courtroom of Commissioner Kim Baskett
Event Type Court Date
Organizer/AuthorRobert Norse
Emailrnorse3 [at]
Address309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
After a trial of more than a dozen hours over several months, Commissioner Kim Baskett will announce her verdict in the case of "Bathrobespierre" Robert Norse and Robert "Blindbear" Facer.

They are both accused of "unreasonably disturbing noise", to wit, singing political songs about the homeless in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz on 1-6-10 which kept a nearby resident from going to sleep at from 2 to 3 PM in the afternoon.

This ridiculous charge has taken up dozens of hours of activist time, involved the City Attorney, and chilled free speech and song on Pacific Avenue for a number of activists for half a year.

Attorney Ed Frey defended Facer; I defended myself.

I played the closing statements of both prosecution and the defense on Sunday. They are archived in the next to the last hour of the audio file at

Commissioner Baskett is to be commended for order a court recording, allowing the defense to make a recording, and giving court consent to play that recording on the radio. This is a right that should be routinely acknowledged, but is generally denied in Santa Cruz courts.

The City Attorney's office in a classic case of political persecution took over the prosecution though St. George resident Sean Reilly was the citizen complainant who signed the citation.

I and other activists consider the case particularly important because it goes to the abusive enforcement police use to shut down performers and singers on Pacific Ave. by using a "heckler's veto".

MC 9.36.020--the Unreasonably Disturbing Noise law--is itself unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. But police are ignoring its wording which does not allow police to stop singers. Nonetheless, cops are demanding that musicians stop playing and leave (not just quiet down). This is done on the whim of any anonymous complainant.

Schonfield didn't claim the singers were singing (and playing a small drum and keyboard) too loud until she reached the courtroom. She also refused to tell the singers and performers how quietly they should play in order to be legal.
Neither did complainant Sean Reilly who also did not warn them that their singing disturbed his day sleeping.

Commissioner Baskett severely restricted courtroom testimony, particularly shielding Officer Shonfield from testimony that she selectively enforced the law. Baskett refused to allow Schonfield to be questions on why she cited Norse, Facer, & others on Reilly's sayso, but refused Norse's demand that Reilly be cited for making a false police report. The SCPD manual as outlined below requires an officer to have "reasonable cause" in taking a citizen's or private person's arrest.

The SCPD Police Policy Manual 364.1 provides:

(a) When advising any individual regarding the right to make a private person’s arrest, officers should refrain from encouraging or dissuading any individual from making
such an arrest and should instead limit advice to the legal requirements for such an arrest as listed below.

Any officer presented with a private person wishing to make an arrest must determine whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that such an arrest would be lawful.
(a) Should any officer determine that there is no reasonable cause to believe that a private person’s arrest is lawful, the officer should take no action to further detain or restrain the individual beyond that which reasonably appears necessary to investigate the matter, determine the lawfulness of the arrest and protect the public safety.
1. Any officer who determines that a private person's arrest appears to be unlawful should promptly release the arrested individual pursuant to Penal Code § 849(b)(1). The officer must include the basis of such a determination in a related report.
2. Absent reasonable cause to support a private person’s arrest or other lawful grounds to support an independent arrest by the officer, the officer should advise the parties that no arrest will be made and that the circumstances will be documented in a related report."

Attorney Ed Frey is appealing Becky Johnson's astonishing conviction in the courtroom of Judge "Armtwist" Almquiet this spring (see "Notes on a Sinister Sidewalk Singing Trial" at

The Norse and Facer cases may also be appealed if the verdict comes in "guilty".
Added to the calendar on Monday Sep 20th, 2010 7:21 PM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Jim Davis & Mike Jennings
Tuesday Sep 21st, 2010 2:23 PM
Guilty, Guilty, and what was that last one..... Oh yea- GUILTY!! This trial was long(and that is Mr.Facer's and Norse's fault, they couldve had it much, much shorter), but fair. I was probably the only one who watched the trial who was on complainant Reilly's side, but I assure you I'm not the only one in the community who appreciates him standing up to you- Mr.Norse, and your "group"! He did anyone who lives at the St.George a HUGE favor!! Thank you Mr.Reilly, from at least 6 separate neighbors of yours, who personally asked me to write this letter.

Sorry Norse, Facer and BJ, but you guys lost because you were wrong, and good folks (with the much appreciated help of the city) stood up to you all!!!
by Sean Reilly
Friday Sep 24th, 2010 10:09 AM
Thanks Jimmy, your support was and is very much appreciated! And for the record, I couldn't agree more with your comments. Although I suspect they'll likely be removed soon, hopefully not though. Thanks again for all your -and my neighbors- support in and out of the courtroom! It really makes a difference when you're going up against a group as vocal as Robert Norses'.
by Great Scott
Friday Sep 24th, 2010 8:55 PM
Are you serious, "Taken up activists time"? REALLY?!?! What would you guys have been doing instead? Bothering Bunnys Shoes employees and or customers? Annoying the security guard at the Metro? Encouraging people to get arrested at TrollFest 2010 --not yourself of course, you yourself lacking the balls/courage to do what you say and encourage others to do ie: get arrested for that cause? (Twice now) making a Nazi salute at a city council meeting, then suing them because they had the audacity to kick you out? Croaking out butchered versions of Petula Clarks music on Pacific Avenue, thereby annoying several residents, not just the likes of Reilly? I'm sorry, you're right, you're time appears to be incredibly valuable! At least someone like Sean Reilly had the guts to say what 98.9 percent of the rest of us productive members of society would say to you given the same situation. Get a clue Robert, you've burned too many bridges, and pissed off too many people by putting your own ego and personal agenda ahead of an otherwise very worthy cause (homelessness). I never ever thought I'd agree, but its true-- you harm any cause you're attached to. People hear your name, or Becky's, and they immediately get a negative perception of said cause! Fair or not, its true. Its really a shame, but in the end, your actions are to blame, no-one else.
by Sean Reilly
Sunday Jan 23rd, 2011 10:36 AM
I agree 110 percent with you, Great Scott! What you said is true and very well said. Becky BJ Johnson's appeal was just denied!! A victory for those of us who want our town back from these idiots who are ruining it!
by Sean Reilly
Sunday Feb 6th, 2011 5:11 AM
BJ's appeal was summarily DENIED just recently!!! (Score One More For The GOOD GUYS!!) Although I do not recall the exact date of her denied appeal, I believe it was in late January, however I'm NOT positive. She has somehow gotten a SECOND, yes SECOND appeal! This is highly irregular as most folks get ONE appeal in an infraction case. Somehow she managed to get a another bite at the apple. So apparently rules and regulations, as well as EQUAL treatment (the kind BJ is always calling for) only apply to the REST of us, and not her (Becky "BJ" Johnson). Funny how that works! Well all I can say is I hope that common sense and justice prevail once again, as they did in her previous trials (Contrary to BJ's Opinion). I myself will also be present at this SECOND appeal, as I missed the first one because I wasn't even aware of its time and or place. I will not be making that mistake again!

by Robert Norse
Thursday May 3rd, 2012 10:55 AM
It's interesting that Sean Reilly personally described himself as a "friend of the homeless" who had no objection to any of the lyrics we were singing at mid-afternoon on the Wednesday when he called police for interfering with his daytime napping (with the window open). He also falsely testified that we'd been there for "four hours" and was opportunistically backed up by the full force of the City Attorney in the longest infraction trial in Santa Cruz history (as far as I know). As he admitted at the trial, he gave no warning those engaged in what was a regular political/musical protest against Mayor Coonerty's anti-homeless laws and policies that he even had a problem with the singers.

When we asked how loudly we needed to sing to be within the law, Officer Schonfield refused to tell us and in essence demanded we stop discussing the matter, risk a ticket by singing at a different unspecified volume, or move on. This kind of blank check to the heckler/complainant apparently is the police rule on Pacific Avenue, in spite of the wording of the law.

Commissioner Baskett compounded the absurdity (and the penalty) by finding us guilty in what she called "a conspiracy to disturb the Bookshop" (though no one from the Bookshop testified at the hearing or even complained).

As a consequence of this kind of threat, we've rarely returned to the "free speech" zone (a zone set up by the late Councilmember Scott Kennedy as a sop to those who criticized the tightening vise of Downtown Ordinances made substantially worse in 2002).

For an interesting article on City Council's destruction of the Downtown Ordinances (where Cynthia Mathews joined in the majority), see "Street Performer Voluntary Guidelines: Consequences? Yes. Unintended? No." at .