(Started writing on Tuesday 2/24/09. )
Getting my 3 year old into her car seat is mission impossible! I can make it happen but it sure takes a lot of strategy and maneuvering. On this Tuesday morning, I was more than willing to play ASH, (the boy who controls the Pokemon) with my child as Pikachu,) the Pokemon with the powers unleashed by ASH’s commands,) it did not take long to realize that in our version, unlike its TV counterpart, Ash is in fact not in charge but our little yellow and lightning –bolt- tailed friend, is.
After dropping ‘Pikachu- Bolt -Baby –Dog- Chu’ at school I rush (not sure why; work is scarce) down to the Marin County Courts to do my morning justice, or do justice to my morning, whichever appropriate in times like this!
Lo and behold, “the force still with me,” somehow found myself powered to the Court of Judge Lynn O’ Mally Taylor. I was drawn by the stark contrast between the African American woman sitting at the Public Defender‘s table and the all white ‘jury of her peers’ – did I say peers? There were 6 white men, 4 white women, 1 Asian man, one Latina woman and one white male alternate juror.
I realized my ‘Pokemonesque’ presence was no coincidence. I simply needed to be there! The charges against the woman, whose name I shall not publish, lest I contribute to her further embarrassment, especially if she is found to be not guilty, was an infraction of the California Penal Code-§653.22, in sum:- Loitering with the intent to commit prostitution.
On the face of it the evidence seemed stacked against her; I watched as three San Rafael veteran officers and one rookie police officer testified for the prosecution. What further piqued my curiosity was the testimony of the officers who spoke of frequent prior contacts with the Defendant, supposedly in the past six months, a concomitant of the circumstantial evidence that may be used to point to intent for this occurrence. This citation occurred on 9/14/07 and the prior contacts were apparently on 8/7/07 and 8/06/07. I was perplexed as to how the prior contacts could be used in evidence to support the element of intent, if she was not actually arrested those previous times for prostitution. As the Defendants counsel quite rightly pointed out to the jury in closing argument, the police did not have probable cause on the previous occasions otherwise they would have arrested her. So what seems odd to me is that a jury be expected to use a non event as evidence of intent for this event!
Once the Judge sent the jury to deliberate and the two attorneys were leaving the court room I approached firstly the young and astute public defender, Adam Cole, esq. and asked if he would grant me an interview after the verdict came in. I expressed my interest in juries of Marin and he seemed delighted to have an opportunity to share his experience and expertise. The Prosecutor from the DA’s office, Ms. Jordan Green, Esq. was also forthcoming as she too agreed to be available to my citizenry and curiosity. I told both that I had planned on writing about this for my Oblogdeeoblgda Blog.
While waiting for the Jury to deliberate, I compiled my questions:
1. How long was the trial?
2. Why did it take from 2007 to 2009 to bring it before the Court?
3. Was this a case of police harassment and/or racial profiling, evident from the testimony of all four police offers?
4. How many African Americans or people of color were present at Jury selection?
5. How many were let go and why?
6. Were her constitutional rights violated?
Leaving Court on this final day of the case, I am headed for pick-up- – yes ‘Pikachu- Bolt -Baby –Dog- Chu’ and I are about ready for another game; mmmm… or am I still in the same game, succumbing to those extraneous forces that control and lead?
 California Penal Code-§653.22. (a) It is unlawful for any person to loiter in any public place with the intent to commit prostitution. This intent is
evidenced by acting in a manner and under circumstances which openly demonstrate the purpose of inducing, enticing, or soliciting
prostitution, or procuring another to commit prostitution.
(b) Among the circumstances that may be considered in determining whether a person loiters with the intent to commit prostitution are that the person:
(1) Repeatedly beckons to, stops, engages in conversations with, or attempts to stop or engage in conversations with passersby,
indicative of soliciting for prostitution.
(2) Repeatedly stops or attempts to stop motor vehicles by hailing the drivers, waving arms, or making any other bodily gestures, or engages or attempts to engage the drivers or passengers of the motor vehicles in conversation, indicative of soliciting for prostitution.
(3) Has been convicted of violating this section, subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 647, or any other offense relating to or involving
prostitution, within five years of the arrest under this section.
(4) Circles an area in a motor vehicle and repeatedly beckons to, contacts, or attempts to contact or stop pedestrians or other
motorists, indicative of soliciting for prostitution.
(5) Has engaged, within six months prior to the arrest under this section, in any behavior described in this subdivision, with the exception of paragraph (3), or in any other behavior indicative of prostitution activity. (c) The list of circumstances set forth in subdivision (b) is not exclusive. The circumstances set forth in subdivision (b) should be considered particularly salient if they occur in an area that is known for prostitution activity. Any other relevant circumstances may be considered in determining whether a person has the requisite intent. Moreover, no one circumstance or combination of circumstances is in itself determinative of intent. Intent must be determined based on an evaluation of the particular circumstances of each case.