Santa Cruz 11 Court Date Earlier 8:15 AM 7/14 Dept 6


NOTE BY NORSE:  At least two HUFF members (myself and blogger Becky Johnson) were targeted as part of the Santa Cruz Eleven group, requiring dozens of hours of court time, jobs and income lost, and perhaps most important a freezing fear descended on the community around Direct Action organizing.  I encourage folks to show up in support of the Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven.

The four are charged with “felony vandalism” for having been in a vacant Wells-Fargo bank bujilding (still vacant four years later), some as journalists, some as supporters of housing for the homeless and a community center, some in opposition to Wells Fargo’s still unpunished foreclosure fraud, some as observers.  No evidence has been presented since this case was first charged in 2012 that any of the SC-11, or any of these four committed vandalism.   Instead the prosecution will argtue that simply being in a building after a trespass warning is given where others commit vandalism “aids and abets” the vandals.   The prosecution is using a strategy where “the process is the punishment” by making the defendants appear again and again.

It’s a phony and dangerous trial being used to silence dissent and spread fear among activists.  And perhaps curry favor with the Wells Fargo Bank and the police–who were forced to back down and may have felt they had egg on their face.

Robert Norse

Santa Cruz 11 Heads Towards Trial

Court Date Tomorrow 7/14!  9am Dept 6

Support still needed for the Santa Cruz 11!

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday 7/14, at 9 am in Department 6 of the Santa Cruz Courthouse defense attorneys for the remaining 4 of the SC11 will be discussing possible pre-trial outcomes of the case with prosecutor Greg Peinado.

This is the first court date of the month that may prove to be a big one for the remaining defendants. With trial potentially starting in just two weeks, let’s show up in support! Just being there can really make a difference to those charged, especially as it has been years since the occupation that led to all of this. Court can be really isolating and uncomfortable, let’s make sure our friends know they are cared for!

This is also an opportunity to show the City that we are still paying attention and care about what is happening.

Tomorrow, there seems to be the possibility of attorneys coming to a pre-trial settlement (plea bargain or deal), or at least making steps in that direction. As of yet, Peinado has not offered anything to the defendants, and has often said he has to consult with his “higher ups” in before making or responding to offers of settlement. This is a continued practice after being criticized in court for coming to hearings without the power to do anything, therefor wasting the time of the judge and defense attorneys as well as tax payer money.

It seems that the defendants are preparing to go to trial while also being open to resolving the case beforehand if the City were to offer something they could agree to. The prosecution has pushed for a large restitution in this case and held on to the felony charges despite having the power to resolve this case by dropping or lowering the charges and restitution.

It has been a question throughout this case of where the motivation and power lie in the prosecution. Bob Lee and his ties to Wells Fargo were influential, but now he is no longer with us. Who is in charge? Who is asking for the continued prosecution and seeking of restitution? Is it Wells Fargo? Or City of Santa Cruz officials?

Regardless of the answers to these questions it is up to us to show each other that we care when the City and State repress activists and members of our community. It is up to us to find what is inspiring about this situation, or create that inspiration for ourselves.

See you tomorrow friends!

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HUFF Squeeze in a Meeting 11 AM Wednesday 8-27

HUFF will be hustling to cram its usual chatter into a more limited time due to the events happening tomorrow:

9 AM  Department 6  County Courthouse:  Hearing to Recuse D.A. Bob Lee from the SC-11 cases (see “Santa Cruz Eleven back in court ” at )
1 PM  Resource Center for Non-Violence SCCCCOR meets at 612 Ocean–perhaps to finally focus on specifics of racial profiling in Santa Cruz.
7 PM  Circles Church at Woodrow and California  Sin Barras meets–concerned with prison abolition and police abuse.

On the HUFF agenda:  Copwatch Downtown, Klieglights on Officer Barnett, Staking Out the Trollbusters, ResourceGuide for the Wretched; Fencing Off the River at the Tannery, and more the usual sniping, snarling, singeing and occasional singing.

And later today, if you happen to get this e-mail on Tuesday the 26th:

Killer Cops Not Welcome — Salinas Police Chief in Santa Cruz
Protest  6:45 PM – 9:15 PM  Bookshop Santa Cruz  Downtown Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz City Council Candidates Forum  Panel Discussion  7 PM  Louden Nelson Center Continue reading

It’s a mystery! The Disappearing Records of Bob Lee’s $34,000 Wells Fargo Loan

NOTE BY NORSE:   The use of prosecutorial terror to chill activism in Santa Cruz after the decline of the Occupy movement in the winter of 2011-2012 is particularly significant to homeless people.  It was at the courthouse and adjacent San Lorenzo Park campground that homeless locals, community activists, and travelers established a Sanctuary Village of their own.  It was makeshift, grubby, struggling, and plagued with all the problems homeless people usually face.    It wasn’t Middle Class Pretty.   However it provided a refuge for more than a hundred homeless folks at its height for two months (including toilet facilities–now scarce to non-existent in most of Santa Cruz).  See “Occupy Santa Cruz Helps Those Fallen Through the Cracks” at  &  “Occupy Santa Cruz Addresses Sanitation Concerns” at     It was trashed by police who gave refugees no place to go–since sleeping is illegal at night and “lodging” illegal all the time.  See “Police Raid and Destroy Occupy Santa Cruz Encampment in San Lorenzo Park” at .

by Becky Johnson (posted by Norse)
Saturday Aug 23rd, 2014 10:10 AM

One of D.A. Bob Lee’s principal demands in the Santa Cruz Eleven cases has been “restitution” to Wells Fargo Bank. Why are there “no records” of a $34,000 interest free loan to DA Bob Lee’s 2010 re-election campaign from Wells Fargo Bank? On Wednesday August 20th, Judge Steven Siegel held a hearing on a motion by attorney Alexis Briggs to uncover the records of Wells Fargo’s 2010 loan to Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee. Lee has been relentless pursuing 11 activists at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a peaceful occupation of a 5 year-vacant Wells Fargo-leased bank building. 7 of the defendants, some of whom lost jobs, housing, and health because of this vendetta against the Occupy movement, had all charges dismissed after a grueling year of merry-go-round court appearances. The Final Four defendants still being hounded have been to court nearly 50 times, according to defendant Brent Adams.

Wednesday’s hearing in Judge Steven Siegel’s courtroom was a continuation of a hearing from the week before. Alexis Briggs, attorney for Cameron Laurendau of the Santa Cruz Eleven filed a motion on behalf of her client to recuse District Attorney Bob Lee from the case & have the State Attorney General take over the prosecution of the remaining four defendants.

At that hearing, a well-suited representative from Wells Fargo, Hani Ganji, appeared before the Judge to provide records, if any, of any financial relationship between the Bank & Bob Lee in the past 5 years.

In 2010, Bob Lee was running for re-election for his District Attorney for Santa Cruz County position. He submitted papers to the County elections board as required by law that he had taken out a loan from Wells Fargo Bank for $34,000. About six weeks later, he filed an addition affidavit claiming that $32,000 of the original $34,000 loan had been paid off. He also checked the box indicating that zero interest had been charged. This possible preferential treatment by the bank towards Lee prompted the motion.

DA Bob Lee was not in court, despite being the subject of the motion, and sent County Counsel, Mr. Sheinbaum, to court on his behalf, who explained that Lee “was ailing.”

The Hani Ganji told the Judge, “Wells Fargo has searched for any loans in the last five years and we didn’t find any records.”

Sheinbaum told Siegle that Lee had no records of the transaction, either, but that there was “a perfectly innocuous explanation” for the lack of records.

Siegle admitted he was “not clear how that works.” “Not only do we have no record of that loan. We have no records of any loan in the last five years.”

“It’s a mystery,” admitted Sheinbaum, “but there are several perfectly innocuous reasons for the lack of records.” When asked for even one such reason by Briggs & Defense Attorney Lisa McHaney, he did not offer a single response.

So did Lee submit fraudulent records to the County Elections department? Did Lee get a $34,000 interest-free loan from Wells Fargo and they have destroyed the records? Or even worse, did Lee get the loan & upon his victory, was gifted $32,000 8 months before he charged 11 local activists and whistle-blowers with felony charges and sought over $25,000 in “damages” from them for occupying an empty bank building, leased to Wells Fargo for three days and turning it into a community center.

Is Lee lying? Is Wells Fargo lying? Are they BOTH lying?

Upcoming, defense attorney, Brian Hackett has another hearing seeking to recuse DA Bob Lee for “misdemeanor shopping,” when Lee revealed to three defendants “There were $30,000 in damages! Come up with the money and we can talk” about reducing the felony charges to misdemeanors.”

Siegel set a continuance of the hearing for next Wednesday, Aug 27th and 9:00 AM in Department 6

(Full Disclosure: I am one of the Santa Cruz Eleven defendants. My charges were dropped in 2013 for lack of evidence)


Alexis Briggs provides more details of the hearing in a interview at (56 minutes into the audio file).

In 2012, D.A. Bob Lee was quite candid in stating it would be “a whole new ballgame” if the defendants paid off Wells Fargo: See “Impromptu Conversation Between DA Bob Lee and Two of the Santa Cruz Eleven” at reading

More Barnstorming for D.A. Bob Lee’s BigTop Attack on the Occupy Movement: Hearings Resume August 13 and 27


D.A. Bob Lee failed to disqualify Judge Paul Burdick for bias in a motion filed this last spring in the case of the Santa Cruz Eleven. [See “Assistant D.A. Files Motion to Recuse Judge Burdick–Again” at & “A Week Later The Sentinel Does Drive-By Coverage of the Santa Cruz Eleven” at & “Santa Cruz Eleven Trial Postponed Indefinitely” at defense lawyers for the Final Four of SC-11 have responded with a motion to disqualify Bob Lee. Hopefully this will avert a felony trial that will cost taxpayers $100,000 or more and write an end to a political prosecution that has cooked up felony charges against activist reporters and local leftists.


Attorney Alexis Briggs has informed me of the following:

On Wednesday August 13th at 8:15 AM in Dept. 6 she will be appearing with her client Cameron Laurendeau to discuss whether Wells Fargo and/or Bob Lee are producing documents regarding their financial relationship. Wells Fargo reportedly contributed a substantial sum of money to Lee’s re-election campaign–as did former Mayor Katherine Beiers (who admitted being in the building but was never charged).

On Wednesday August 27th at 8:15 AM in Dept 6, all four attorneys and the Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven will appear for a judgment on the earlier motion by all four that D.A. Bob Lee be removed from the case because of his financial interest or the appearance of impropriety (as I understand the issue). If he is, the matter willl be referred to the state attorney general to see if they chose to prosecute. Judge Burdick will decide that day or issue a ruling later.

Additioonally Jesse Rubin, Frank “Angel” Alcantara’s attorney will argue other motions–which I’m still trying to secure a copy of.

In a videoed exchange from two years ago, Lee acknowledged he wanted the Santa Cruz Eleven to “pay back” the money that Wells Fargo claimed that other (uncharged and unnamed) activists created by “vandalism” in the bank. [See “Impromptu Conversation Between DA Bob Lee and Two of the Santa Cruz Eleven” at .] “Vandalism” is in quotes because while the bank was grafittied and some furniture damaged, the padding of the “costs” was rather obvious as was the political nature of the vandalism. In addition the disproportionate destruction wrought by Wells Fargo both locally and nationally was ignored.


Santa Cruz Eleven Update & Wretched Mainstream Media Coverage

A Week Later The Sentinel Does Drive-By Coverage of the Santa Cruz Eleven
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] )
Tuesday Jun 10th, 2014 7:43 AM

Today’s Scent-Anal finally got around to covering the 6-4 hearing of the Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven–in a story that’s buried on-line and nearly impossible to leave comments on (you keep getting displaced by an ad). I suppose we should be grateful there’s any space given to the issue at all. I have so far unsuccessfully tried to leave the following comments on the story–which reiterate past concerns, but, I think, are still strongly relevant. The Sentinel story is by Jessica York and can be found at .

No mention of the $100,000 cost of the case to the taxpayers so far, plus another $100,000 for the upcoming felony trial. Nor any interest in the ongoing foreclosure fraud and crime being perpetrated by Bob Lee’s pals in the Wells Fargo rackets. Nor info about senseless prosecution was and is part of a broader repression against the Occupy movement and stopping similar protests as the war against the poor escalates.

No analysis of the fact that the D.A. And police have zero evidence of any actual vandalism committed by the four defendants. The abuse of the “aiding and abetting’ theory spins the expensive lie that simply because these four along with more than a hundred others were in the building (as I was), they are “guilty” of vandalism.

Also conveniently forgotten was the original purpose of the peaceful occupation of the now six-years vacant Wells Fargo-leased ban building: to provide a community center and/or homeless refuge for those outside—only 5% of whom have any legal place to sleep at night.

The continued case simply provides political cover for Bob Lee’s failed case here and the endless distraction from escalating rents, ongoing foreclosures, and increasing poverty prompted by the massive wealth in equality in the country (and in the county).

Meanwhile on-going low-intensity terrorism against protesters and the community continues with the 6 PM to 6 AM curfew all around the courts and county buildings (denying the basic right to peaceful protest there) as well as increased “public safety” exclusions and visible police-state presence downtown, around city hall, the library, and the parks. No word from the local ACLU on these blatant bites out of the Constitution. Gary Johnson served a 6 month sentence and received an additional 2 years for sleeping on a bench outside the courthouse for a handful of nights (see ).

Recently I’ve learned from Ed Frey, the attorney in Gary Johnson’s case, that there have been new positive developments in his demand to have the case reheard because only 2 of the required 3 judges were present at the appeal hearing. More on that when he posts it or I get more info. Earlier documents in the case are o Ed’s website at

Gary’s probation ended in March, Ed tells me, and his on-going commentary often appears at Gary’s website: .

Recent updates & comments on the June 4th hearing are posted at .

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Keith McHenry on the Santa Cruz Eleven

Santa Cruz Eleven, the Lessons of Food Not Bombs and The Broader Austerity Crisis
by Keith McHenry (posted by Norse)
Sunday Sep 8th, 2013 2:13 AM

Keith McHenry has visited Santa Cruz numerous times to support the Santa Cruz Eleven (four of whom are still charged with phony felonies). Their “crime” was to report on, witness, and be supportive of a Continue reading

“Big Top” Bob Panhandles the Public in Santa Cruz!


Lee’s shortage of funds is not surprising and seems to be of his own making.

His office has already received a rare sanction for stalling and failing to deliver evidence in the Santa Cruz Eleven case.   Lee is appealing the $500 fine iimposed by Judge Burdick last January at a cost of thousands of dollars in a 49-page brief.

At a recent court hearing, Burdick urged him to spare the taxpayers the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars that a 2-3 week long felony trial for the remaining four of the SC-11 would cost the taxpayers.

The Santa Cruz Eleven were a publicity stunt by Lee in his “Shut Down Occupy Santa Cruz” prosecutions of 2012.  He  targeted peaceful protesters & falsely blamed them for vandalism at the (still)vacant Wells Fargo-lased bank structure at 75 River St.  With no evidence–instead using subsequently discredited “conspiracy” charges and now a tortured “aid-and-abet” theory based on the act that the four were supposedly in the bank, even if they couldn’t have been shown to do anything else.

Since there’s no evidence that any of the remaining four individuals still being hounded actually vandalized anything, this costly trial (now postposted until March 2014) needs to be dropped, obviously, in favor of real public safety concerns.
See and for a more lengthy update and background.

Santa Cruz reactionaries, however, have been successful in diverting attention from the pile-up of real violent crimes that remain unaddressed.  Instead they have focused on their own special scapegoat agenda  to spotlight political protesters and homeless survival campers (raising the old Drug War red herrings with “needlemania”).

This kind of toxic hysteria now has official cover with Mayor Bryant’s “Citizens Task Force on Public Safety” which gathers “testimony” from like-minded bigots every other Wednesday to confirm its obsession with “enabling the homeless menace”.

Lee apparently feels he can do no wrong (even when a judge rules otherwise).  He also seems to think the Board of Supervisors and the taxpayers will roll over every time he screams “crime!”.

Time to spend money addressing real crime instead of backing the bigoted agenda of those who want to criminalize the poor or inflate their own political profile.

This kind of pernicious panhandling is far more deadly and far more expensive than the sparechanging that shocks the merchants and rouses Take Back Santa Cruz to self-righteous fury.

Santa Cruz County’s top prosecutor declares emergency personnel need

By Calvin Men

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted:   08/30/2013 06:26:05 PM PDT

SANTA CRUZ — In response to an unusually high number of serious violent crimes set for trial within the next two months, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee declared a personnel emergency for his office Friday.

In a letter to County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello, Lee notified her of the need to add attorneys to his staff because of the abundance of serious criminal cases headed to trial.

At least eight homicide trials are slated for September and October, an unprecedented number that is expected to put a strain on his staff, Lee said.

“Unfortunately, it’s just not stopping and it’s going to reach that conclusion where it’s thin ice,” Lee said in an interview. “If we take more steps without additional support, a case may fall through. Our ability to be successful, to get justice and hold people accountable would be compromised.”

By considering an emergency measure allowed under civil service rules, Lee is permitted to hire extra personnel without approval from the county Board of Supervisors for a period of 60 days — long enough to cover the upcoming trials, Lee said.

After 60 days, Lee will have to defer to the board for approving the extra personnel.

He said funding for the extra attorneys will likely come out of the county’s general fund. But he couldn’t say how many more attorneys will be hired, though there is already a list of candidates.

Each homicide case requires two attorneys dedicated to that case only, making them unavailable for other cases, Lee said.

His office has 33 budgeted positions but many of the attorneys would be largely unavailable because of the eight homicide trials, which include a gang-related homicide of a 14-year-old boy in 2011 and a 2009 murder of a homeless man on the river levee, both in Watsonville. There are also five sexual assault and attempted murder cases during the next two months.
Lee said the high rate of jury trials is due largely to suspects deciding not to settle cases.

After the 60-day period, Lee said he isn’t sure what will happen with extra personnel. He is expected to meet with the board to discuss future budgetary matters in January.

Follow Sentinel reporter Calvin Men at


Endless Warfare: Santa Cruz Eleven Attorneys Face More Legal Battles Monday 8 AM in Dept 6.. 6

Attorneys for 4 of the Santa Cruz 11 go to Status & Sanctions Hearing Monday
by Robert Norse
Friday Apr 5th, 2013 4:41 PM

The persecution and prosecution of Gabriella Ripply-Phipps, Brent Adams, Angel Alcantara, and Cameron Laurendeau grinds on Monday 8 AM in Department 6 in Santa Cruz Superior Court. The status hearing will schedule pre-trial motions and the trial itself, now slated for early May, but likely to be postponed because of one of the attorneys has a conflict. Meanwhile attorneys for the four have appealed to a higher court for a Writ to stop the proceedings and throw out the cases in a challenge to Judge Volkman’s dismissal of a 995 Motion last month that itself challenged the forwarding of felony vandalism charges against the 4 to trial. If the trial proceeds, it’s expected to take 2 weeks.

These four defendants are the last of the Santa Cruz Eleven.

Several weeks ago, Bob Lee’s District Attorney’s office revealed that assistant D.A. Rebekah Young, who earned the dubious distinction of being the only D.A. in memory to be sanctioned by the court for misconduct in repeatedly failing to turn over police video and records to attorneys for the eleven defendants. Rumor had it that Young was headed for Texas to resume her career as a reporter in Austin or Dallas.

Some wondered why such a young and inexperienced lawyer was assigned to face eleven attorneys in court in such a high-profile case Considering defendants–if found guilty and given the maximum–could have faced seven years in prison–each. Defendants and their allies expressed both a sense of vindication that Young was gone from the department and apprehension that a more experienced team was likely to be taking over the prosecution.

The unprecedented $500 “slap on the wrist” fine leveled against the prosecution for misconduct had neither been paid nor formally appealed after the 60 day period ran out in March. The D.A.’s Office (or Young herself) reportedly asked the Court whether the fine was against her personally or the office of D.A. Bob Lee. No answer was forthcoming, and the time to appeal the sanction ran out after that 60 day period expired.

Scuttlebutt around the Superior Court Clerk’s office had it that the issue might come up at this April 8th hearing. The actual costs to at least two of the attorneys involved ran into the tens of thousands of dollars for the dozen or so hearings and multiple motions and ignored discovery demands. These were disallowed by Judge Burdick in his token fine of Young. He also refused to dismiss the cases as a sanction for the abusive prosecution that has repeatedly concealed or failed to present evidence demanded by the defense (and ordered by the Burdick himself).

In spite of the fact that seven of the defendants after months of ordeal had their cases dismissed for lack of evidence, though none have yet demanded a factual innocence hearing (which reportedly is nearly impossible to win).

None have filed complaints of misconduct and malfeasance with the Bar Association and/or the Commission on Judicial Performance for the political prosecution and failure to turn over documents in repeated contempt of court orders to do so.

The Final Four defendants face a possible four year sentence and a “restitution fine” to Wells Fargo Bank of $23,000 or more. There has been no evidence presented in the many hours of hearings that any of the four destroyed or vandalized any property. Rather the tangled theory of the discredited Young was that the mere presence of the four in the building was sufficient evidence of their vandalism under an “aiding and abetting” theory.

Critics pointed out that though Young had presented some evidence that some were in the building (though no clear evidence that they had refused to leave after being warned), there was no testimony that they “aided and abetted” the trespass action–a requirement for the finding that they were also responsible for the “probable consequence” of felony vandalism by parties unknown.

The “trespass” is described by others as a First Amendment activity shared by hundreds as well as a form of direct action whistle-blowing against the acknowledged criminal bankster Wells Fargo, who leased the vacant building for the last 3 1/2 years prior to the occupation and continue to lease the vacant structure.

That building like other vacant banks downtown has become a squat refuge for some of the more desperate or audacious of the city’s homeless population. Santa Cruz has legal shelter for less than 5% of its homeless population two-thirds of the year and a perpetual waiting list. One of the stated objectives of those who actively occupied the building and announced their intentions (none of whom are on trial) was to create a Community Center that might also serve to shelter those in need.

For recent history of the case, see “Four Individuals to Stand Trial for 75 River Street Bank Occupation” at .

For more of the legal documents involved, see “Santa Cruz Eleven–The Final Four Demand Dismissal of Charges” at

For a transcript of the March 11th Hearing which sent the cases forward to trial and the legal papers challenging that misuse of legal power see below.

For a broader perspective of the occupation and subsequent legal history see .

A benefit for Food not Bombs August 14th at India Joze 3:30 – 6 PM will also feature speakers from this case.

To view the appeal briefs and transcript of the March 11th Hearing go to