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Orange County

Homeless Woman Opts for Trial on Charges of Sleeping Outside

July 27, 2001|JENNIFER MENA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A homeless woman charged with illegally sleeping outdoors in Buena Park rejected an offer of a plea bargain Thursday and asked to go to trial.

Orange County Superior Court Judge James Marion offered Dianne Grue, 66, probation and community service for two misdemeanors.

"The offer was informal probation and 10 days of community service," said Grue's attorney, Jon Alexander. "If someone perceived there was a crime committed, that is a reasonable offer."

Grue opted instead for a trial. If convicted, she could be sentenced to jail.

The Rev. Wiley Drake, a local advocate for the homeless, said Grue's decision "means the court is not able to plea-bargain and intimidate poor and homeless people.

"Any deal would have been bad because it says that it's a criminal offense to be poor and sleepy."

City officials in Buena Park did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Jury selection is scheduled for Tuesday, which Alexander said does not give Grue sufficient time to summon witnesses.

In a related development, another judge ordered Drake to stay 100 yards away from the North Justice Center in Fullerton unless he is subpoenaed as a witness in a case.

Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett issued the order after Drake conducted a radio broadcast on his cell phone for an Internet program in which he discussed "jury nullification," a term that refers to jurors' ability to refuse to follow court instructions they disagree with.

Prickett and other judges were concerned that potential jurors could overhear Drake's remarks and that they could influence cases other than Grue's, Alexander said.

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