Common Sense

PERHAPS the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason. -Thomas Paine (1737-1809). Common Sense, 1776

Monday, September 04, 2006

Is This Appropriate for a Free People? #00002

Steamboat Springs [Colorado] — One of the owners of a fresh produce store said Saturday that it is absurd that two men are in jail for taking spoiled fruit and vegetables from the store’s trash area.

On Wednesday, Giles Char­lé, 24, of Somersworth, N.H., and David Siller, 27, of Wayne, Pa., pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespass and were sentenced to spend six months in Routt County Jail and pay $15 in restitution to Sweet Pea Produce. ...They originally were charged with felony second-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft. They accepted the plea agreement offered by Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James, they said, because they did not want to risk being convicted of a felony.

“Once I found out what these guys were being charged with, I contacted (St. James),” said Jonathon Hieb, who owns Sweet Pea with Katherine Zambrana. “I told him, ‘We’re not behind this prosecution. We don’t want anything to do with it.’ I thought for sure my input would have some kind of bearing, but he wasn’t hearing any of it.”

Hieb said St. James told him he was going to make an example of the men.

...Charlé most recently worked as a social worker. Siller is an Americorps volunteer and a yoga instructor. Both men had plans to go to graduate school, family and friends said.

...St. James also asked Judge James Garrecht to fine the men $42 for each day they serve in jail, the standard cost of care for inmates. Garrecht refused.

...Hammond, like Westphale, advised the men to plead to the misdemeanor and accept the six-month sentence.

“The way I put it to them was, ‘Could you win your case? Yes. But am I willing to gamble a felony conviction that you’re going to win? No,’” Hammond said Saturday.

Hammond said there really was no choice. If they pleaded guilty to the felony, he said, the men faced four years of supervised probation before their records would have been cleared. Also, they would have had to apply for an interstate transfer to serve their probation outside of Colorado.

Defendants are given these kinds of choices every day,” Hammond said. “This one is particularly egregious, but the same kind of thing goes on in a lot of cases.” Sweet Pea owners: 'We didn't want this' Jail time for taking food from trash ‘ridiculous,’ Hieb says, By Scott Stanford, Saturday, September 2, 2006


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