May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you, guide your way on "~Incredible String Band

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Legal Saga Continues...

The New Year has come and gone and we are all doing well here in rainy southern California. We have to stay here until the beginning of Feuary, then we head North for more farm work.

Moss's pre trial date came and went in early January. They set a date for the criminal trial. It will begin on February 1st. I wrote briefly about the legal woes back when this all began, but in order to sufficiently update the saga, some more details are needed. ....

As some of you know who follow our blog, Moss was arrested a few months back for exercising his right ( protected by both the state and federal Constitution) to gather signatures of registered voters on a state initiative. He was in front of a certain big name store which I am not going to name due to the legal issues. It is a very well known and established fact that this activity is allowed any place that is "open to the public" and connected to other stores via a sidewalk ( like in a shopping plaza). This particular store chain knows this and has challenged this fact many times in court and lost, the ruling even being upheld by the supreme court. However they continue to find new and inventive ways to harass people working on state initiatives and registering people to vote.

Despite Moss's best attempts to talk to the police and store managers, including showing them the laws and cases upheld in superior courts, they threw him in jail and made us post 5,000 dollar bail. This by the way is the bail amount reserved for felonys, he was booked on a misdemenor.

At this point we went directly to a civil rights lawyer who agreed we had an air tight case. She is so sure that she is willing to take our civil case on contingency (meaning she doesn't get paid unless she wins).

First however, we need to get through the criminal trial, which is the scary part....

What makes it particularly scary is a man, a passerby who showed up while the managers were asking Moss to leave and interjected himself into the drama. He approached Moss and told him that the sidewalk was for "walking not harassing people with your damn initiatives " and that he should leave. Moss declined. He then got in his face and threatened to "kick his ass", to which Moss just ignored him and turned back to trying to reason with the store managers. At this point several of the store managers took him aside and began speaking quietly to him for some time.

While this was happening there was a woman present, the woman who was in the middle of signing the initiative when the managers first approached. She happened to work for a lawyer, and heard the whole thing from start to finish, including the interaction with the man who threatened Moss. When the cops came she tried to help by explaining to them that it was indeed his right to petition there, regardless of private property or not. They of course refused to listen and Moss was inevitably thrown in jail.

A week or so later when we got a copy of the police report we were stunned to read that the man who approached Moss and threatened him bodily harm, told the police that Moss had physically blocked him from entering the store! We also noticed that he was booked on a 602.1., "interfering with a business operator". A quick search on the net revealed that a 602.1 is the following.....

(a) Any person who intentionally interferes with any lawful business or occupation carried on by the owner or agent of a business establishment open to the public, by obstructing or intimidating those attempting to carry on business, or their customers, and who refuses to leave the premises of the business establishment after being requested to leave by the owner or the owner's agent, or by a peace officer acting at the request of the owner or owner's agent, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 90 days, or by a fine of up to four hundred dollars ($400), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

This is ludicrous of course as Moss did not harass or intimidate anyone. We realize however that this is how the store and police are attempting to spin the situation in order to legally arrest him, as they know they cannot simply arrest him for partitioning. We were very surprised to learn that this man has decided to go before the court in February and tell this lie. We however also have our witness, the woman who was in the process of signing the initiative and saw the entire interaction. She has agreed to testify on Moss's behalf.

There are a few other interesting points as well. In regards to the 602.1 there is a little clause at the bottom which states the following,

c) This section shall not apply to any of the following persons:

(1) Any person engaged in lawful labor union activities that are permitted to be carried out on the property by state or federal law.

(2) Any person on the premises who is engaging in activities protected by the California Constitution or the United States Constitution.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to supersede the application of any other law.

So, even if Moss had been physically blocking the man from entering the store, which he most certainly was not, according to this law, he could not be arrested for it. We brought this up to our public defender who in turn brought it up to the DA and we are awaiting his response.

We have also recently been made aware of the fact that this man, who has decided to go before the court and lie, is a retired police officer. This brings up a whole host of interesting possibilities.Was he working for the store undercover ? Was he a plant ?

The trial begins on Febu 1st and if found guilty by a jury Moss could go to jail for three months. If he is found not guilty we will then proceed with the civil trial and lawsuit.Currently we have a PD for the trial but we are quickly loosing confidence in her. Our civil lawyer said that she would take the criminal trial for us, thereby relieving us of our public defender who means well but is way over burdened with cases. She said they very rarely will take a criminal trial, especially on contingency, but she really believes in this case .

Going with the civil lawyer means that the trial will be pushed back another 30 days and that eventually we will have to pay a lot more money. The money saved will mean nothing though if Moss is in jail for something he did not do.

Both our PD and civil lawyer have mentioned that the area where this occurred is very conservative. The judge, as well as the jury is likely to be conservative as well. What's more is this particular station is well known for being corrupt. The lawyers even went so far as to mention, independently, that they would not be surprised if the store (located directly across the street from the main police station and courthouse)had favor with the court and police.

We came into this whole thing very naively, thinking that if a person is innocent, that is all they need, they will be found not guilty and justice will be served. However, we are becoming increasingly uneasy as we realize that this is not always the case.

I think the court blkif himself said it best recently.

At the last hearing Moss asked the judge (filling in for the previous one)to return the 5000 cash bail we posted six months ago. At the first hearing the judge ruled that she would return the bail under the stipulation that he must not come within 500 feet of said store. The bail however never came and as it turned out the court clerk neglected to write it down, so there was no record of it. Our PD asked the judge about this and he decided that, regardless of the previous ruling, since there was no record of this, the bail would not be returned until the conclusion of the trial. Moss questioned the judge about this and he did not take kindly to the questioning.

On the way out of the courtroom the bailiff whispered to Moss that he should not ever question the judge that way. Moss responded,

" You know what happened ! You were there, she ruled that the bail be returned. It's just not right.." The bailiff indicated that he did indeed recall.

" It's not about what is fair ", came the bailiffs almost aplogetic reply...

" It's about doing what they tell you " .......

Original painting entitled " Hypnagog " by Carey Thompson

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year !

We left the land in Oregon towards the end of November, with lots of hugs, sadness and promises of a speedy return, and headed south towards California. Along the way we stopped over near Mt Shasta for a few days, to visit with some friends. While there, on one of the nights the temp got down to 11 degrees. This was the coldest temperature we have ever endured in the bus and all things considered, it was rather comfortable. If we were to remain in those kinds of temps long term however, there are a few simple winterizing things we could do to make it much better.

The front of the bus where the stove is stayed very warm, but the back where we sleep was a bit cold. We realized that directly under our bed where have a storage area, is the only place we did not put insulation. That, coupled with the fact that the bed is surrounded by windows, is the main reason it did not heat up the way the front of the bus did. We blocked up all the windows near the bed with pillows and blankets and this helped a great deal. We did this during our recent stay in Oregon as well, as there were some real cold nights. For living long term in below freezing weather I think that some cut up wool blankets sewed into curtains and hung behind the regular curtains would be all that is needed.

Moss went to court on the 5th but the lawyers requested another extension. The new pre trial is set for January 7th. Sigh...these things can take a long time.

We celebrated Winter Solstice/Christmas/ Hanukah with Moss's folks and his sister's family. This is quite funny as they are all atheist Jews and Moss and I celebrate pagan holidays. We had a great time none the less and exchanged gifts, lit candles, sang songs, ate cookies. A merry time was had by all.

Sage was gifted a few nice wooden toys, Moss received a printer for his music Cd's and for myself some wool roving for spinning on my wheel and some pre spun yarn as well. I have been in a knitting frenzy lately, making wool soakers/pants to go over Sage's diapers.

I love my in laws dearly but they are such techno savvy geeks ! Since we have decided to definitely not do t.v, video games and electronic toys, this may present some difficulty in the future.I realize that it is unrealistic to think that we could shield her entirely from t.v, video games and the like, nor would I want to. Our goal is simply to limit her exposure while we are able to ( being careful, of course to not "demonize" it therby making it more desireable) and gently encourage her towards other intrests while still young. We do plan on introducing computers and movies, but not until she is 8 years or older and then only if she expresses and interest. Instead we will focus on exploring nature, making things with our hands reading and listening to the radio. It is not that I feel computers and movies are inherently bad somehow, I just question the effect they have on developing minds and imaginations, and feel they are best left for older kids and adults.

Speaking of my inlaws, I want to take a momment to help them out by shamelessly plugging their websites...

Moss's mom, Carol Ratafia has been in the art business for 37 years selling her paintings with her husband, Less, at art shows all across the nation. They have just put up a new website featuring her work,

Also, our brother in law Scott Mccloud, is a comic book artist and has a great website featuring his work,

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog posts...

As of January 9th Sage will be 7 months old. In late Decemebr she began crawling and now is quite mobile. She has also been having a terrible time with teething lately and after having tried everything, I bought her an amber teething necklace. These are very common in northern European countries where they have been used for centuries to help alleviate teething pain.The amber necklace, when worn against the skin gets warm and exudes an oil that is then absorbed into the bloodstream where it has an anti inflammatory affect on the gums.

It really does seem to work ! I am thinking of making these and selling them on etsy to help generate some extra income.

Speaking of..we opened a shop on etsy this month and I am happy to report that in the first week we made a whooping 435 dollars ! I sold my favorite needle felted guy ever, the elf in the green overalls on the top of the page, for 350 ! We also sold a beautiful pair of boots that Moss made and a small needle felted figure. This is very encouraging and we are now busy making more stuff .

We will be in California through January then we are going back up north to do some more work on the farm in washington..

Sage on solstice morn, playing with her new favorite toy, a silk play cloth..

The soaker pants I am curently knitting ....

Sage and her new amber teething necklace. These really work !