UNITED STATES v. PICCIOTTO AND THOMAS

USDC Cr. No. 83-243

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                                              Criminal No. 83-243
             V.                               DISTRICT OF COLUMBlA                                 
WILLIAM THOMAS,                     
        Defendant                                  FILED
                                               July 19, 1984
                                       CLERK, U.S. DISTRlCT COURT

MEMORANDUM

At the sentencing in this case this morning the Court made the following statement to the defendant:
You have used a public park as a place to exercise First Amendment rights to make a public demonstration and to petition public officials about your concerns about nuclear weapons. In the process you have violated valid laws which prohibit camping on federal park land. Just last week the United States Supreme Court confirmed their validity. */

Your right to demonstrate publicly your views about nuclear weapons is very important and is entitled to the protection of the law. But the public's right to control the use of public parks and prohibit camping there is also entitled to the protection of the law. It is possible for a law abiding person to accommodate a protest like yours with the valid laws regulating the use of public parks

So far you have not done so. Indeed you have run afoul the law many times during your adult life.

The Probation Officer advises me that, unlike your attitude after some of your previous brushes with the law, you have now expressed to her a desire to accommodate yourself to the requirements of the law.


[* Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 52 L.W. 4986 (June 29, 1983).]

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You profess, however, not to know what those requirements are.

Because of your prior record, and your earlier reaction to these proceedings, your violation cannot go unpunished. I am imposing a split sentence, however, so that you will be on supervised probation after you have served a brief sentence.

The purpose of the punishment is primarily to vindicate the authority of the law (which you have violated) and to encourage you and others to obey the law in the future. In addition to the punishment a condition of your probation will be that if the Probation Officer requests, you will try in good faith obtain a permit or some other writing from the Department of Interior giving you explicit detailed guidance as to, for example, exactly how long you can stay in a particular park at any one time, what you may have exactly in your possession by way of food, clothing, and the like, and any other terms and conditions which would permit you to demonstrate as you are entitled to do under the First Amendment consistently with the valid prohibition against camping in a public park without a permit.

Thereafter, upon completion of the statement the Court imposed a sentence as follows:

In a judgment entered July 15, 1984, you were found and adjudged to be guilty of violating 36 C.F.R. S 50.27 and 16 U.S.C. 3, and it is hereby

ORDERED: that you shall be committed to the custody of the Attorney General for confinement for a period of 90 days provided that all but 10 days of that sentence is suspended and at the expiration of 10 days confinement you are placed on probation for a term of 2 years under the supervision of the Probation Officer of this district on the special condition that if you plan to maintain a presence in any federal park land you shall, if and when requested by the Probation Officer, apply promptly and in good faith to the Secretary of Interior or his delegate for a permit or other vriting which prescribes the terms and conditions of your presence in a park and in good faith seek judicial review of any decision denying you that permit or other writing.

Upon reflection shortly thereafter the Court determined that

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18 U.S.C. S 3651 permits the imposition of a split sentence only where the maximum penalty is more than six months. The maximum penalty authorized by 16 U.S.C. 3 is just six months. The Court thereupon reconvened the proceedings and invited suggestions from counsel as to a remedy for the erroneous sentence. The United States suggested that the sentence imposed be allowed to stand. The defendant suggested that if the confinement provision of the sentence was vacated and the defendant placed on probation for a term on the condition that he follow the permit route, the Court could impose a fresh sentence of up to six months in the event that the defendant violated the conditions of the probation. In the circumstanres the Court determined that the alternative suggested by the defendant was the correct one. Accordingly, the Court reimposed a sentence as follows:

Imposition of sentence be, and is hereby, suspended, and the defendant is hereby placed on probation, in charge of the Probation Officer of the Court, for a period of two (2) years.

On Special Condition that if defendant plans to maintain a presence in any federal park land, defendant shall, when requested by the Probation Officer, apply in good faith to the Secretary of Interior, or his delegate, for a permit or other writing which shall prescribe the terms and conditions of defendant's presence in the park, and shall, when requested by the Probation Officer, in good faith seek judicial review of any decision denying defendant that permit or other writing.

Date: July 19, 1984
(signed) Louis F. Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


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