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Homeless man opts for trial over fine for illegal camping

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POSTED November 8, 2017 12:57 a.m.

The 70-year-old man that was cited $1,210 for illegal camping back in September is opting to take the matter to trial.
Norman J. Moore, who was cited on Sept. 29 for illegal camping on Pacific Road off of W. Yosemite Avenue a stone’s throw from the Save Mart parking lot, told San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Gus C. Barrera II on Tuesday that he wanted to take the matter to trial when presented with the option of settling with the City Attorney’s office.
And even though he has been assigned a public defender to help him in his case, Moore said he would rather defend himself against the charges – noting that the extenuating circumstances he offered to describe to Barrera on the spot should be more than enough to put the matter to rest.
“You know what Abraham Lincoln said about that?” Barrera asked. “He said that any man that represents himself has a fool for a client. Why don’t you let me assign somebody that can help you in this?”
Deputy City Attorney Don Lupul offered to settle the matter with Moore for the cost of the fine, one year of probation, 20 hours of community service and all necessary court fees in addition to the cost of the initial fine.
Moore, who has said he’s living off of $805-a-month in Social Security income, declined almost immediately and will have a month to put together his argument along with his court-appointed counsel before appearing back before Barrera on Dec. 8 at 8:30 a.m. in Department M2 for a hearing that could determine his fate. City Attorney John Brinton will be representing Manteca when that happens.
According to Moore, he was ordered by Manteca police twice to leave the illegal campsite in September before the citation was issued. He had been living on the street since August when he claims he was forced out of a home that on Linden Way that he had been living in with a friend for nearly two years after the friend was forced to sell the home for financial reasons.
His additional attempts at finding a place before being out on the street came up short when the resource that was recommended to him by the Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission – Eskaton Manteca Manor, the city’s oldest subsidized low-income senior housing on Eastwood Avenue – placed him on a long waiting list.
This current stint marks the second time in his life that he’s been homeless – living for a time back in 1984 in Niles Canyon between Pleasanton and San Jose – but is now affected by sciatica in both hips that he says prevents him from being able to walk or stand for more than a few minutes without pain.
Moore didn’t tell Barrera where he was currently staying as he prepares his defense – he had submitted a detailed letter to the judge as well as the City Attorney’s office that was referenced during the 10-minute long proceeding – but was ordered to stay away from the private property that he was cited on back in September.
The city’s public camping ordinance was thrust into the spotlight when a handful of local people who were living on the street challenged the city’s authority to ban them from camping on public property – leading to the current regulations that allow camping in certain locations during certain hours that are enforced by the Manteca Police Department.
Camping on private property without the permission of the landowner, which Moore is being accused of, has remained against the municipal code.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.

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