UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
UNITED STATES, )
versus ) CRIMINAL NO. 87-60
) Judge Charles Richey
WILLIAM THOMAS, )
DEFENDANT'S RESPONSE TO
GOVERNMENT'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF OFFENSE
1. On December 22, 1987, while engaged in a round-the-clock
demonstration, defendant William Thomas (Thomas) and six other
individuals were cited for camping in Lafayette Park 1/.
2. On February 18, 1987 an Information was filed in this
Federal District Court charging Thomas with violating 36 CFR Section
3. On March 3, }387, predicated upon the premise that "defendants
participated in the same act, that is , sleeping ... that constitutes
the offense . . . " 2/, the United States, by and through
AUSA Chapman, filed a Motion To Consolidate For Trial.
4 . On March 10, 1987 Judge Joyce Hens Green issued an
1/ Camping is defined in the regulation as: "the
use of park land for living. accommodation purposes such as sleeping
activities, or making preparations to sleep ( including the laying
down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping), or storing personal
belongings, or making any fire, or using any tents or shelter
or other structure or vehicle for sleeping or doing any digging
or earth breaking or carrying on cooking activities . The above-listed
activities constitute camping when it reasonably appears, in light
of all the circumstances, that the participants, in conducting
these activities, are in fact using the area as a living accommodation...."
2/ Government's Motion To Consolidate, at page 2.
directing that a Hearing on pre-trial motions be held in front
of Judge Richey on March 25, 1987.
5. On March }3, 1987 Thomas filed a Motion To Dismiss For
Lack Of Offense, with a copy served by mail on AUSA Chapman.
6. At the March 25th hearing before Judge Richey arguments
on the Government's Motion for Consolidation were presented by
all participating parties. 3/
7. In addition, Thomas made representations with respect
to his Motion To Dismiss For Lack Of Offense, and presented Defendant's
Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 to the Court in support of that motion.
8. Ms. Chapman did not contest those representations or
9. On March 28, 1987 Thomas received Government's Opposition
To Defendant's Motion To Dismiss For Lack Of Offense (Government's
Opposition), filed and, we are led to believe, served on March
10. Since June 3, 1981 Thomas has been devoting as much
of his time and energy as possible to communicating opinions with
respect to the relative insanity and impracticality of genocidal
weapons. Both to illustrate his sincerity, as well as to pursue
personal moral perfection, Thomas has taken a vow of poverty and
lives without accommodations as a symbolic statement vis-a-vis
the morality of protecting an individual or national life-style
3/ A defendant identified as Philip Joseph was not present.
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through the expedient of force and violence. So that he may
be available to the general public for purposes of communication,
Thomas spends as much time as possible in Lafayette Park, a traditional
11. According to AUSA Chapman, United States Park Police
officer Peter J. Ward observed "seven people at approximately
10:00 p.m. on December 21st lying in or under sleeping bags and
blankets on or near the south sidewalk in Lafayette Park. "
12. Further, Ms. Chapman claims, officer Ward observed
that Thomas and Ellen Thomas "appeared to be conscious at
times of goings-on around them." 5/
13. Finally Ms. Chapman alleges that approximately eighteen
"items were observed in the area around the seven defendants,"
but makes no indication of who, if anyone, was in possession of
which item, not to mention whether or how any item may have been
related to "living accommodations." 6/
14. Notably absent from the Government's "facts"
are any mention of acts which might reasonably be considered "living
accommodations," e.g., making any fire, using any tents or
shelter or other structure or vehicle for sleeping, doing any
digging or earth breaking, or carrying on cooking activities.
15. In her argument Ms. Chapman relies entirely on the
premise that punishment "can be imposed regardless of whether
4/ Government's Opposition, at page 1. Thomas disputes
the accuracy of this "fact."
5/ Ibid, at page 2.
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States can show it was injured." 7/ Under this sort of
"logic'' it could also be argued that a defendant should
be punished for "murder" even if no one was killed,
or that someone might justly be punished for "robbery"
even if nothing were taken.
16. To support this fantastic proposition Ms. Chapman,
necessarily, relies on her own fabrications. For example:
17. Without speculation as to why Ms. Chapman might have
made that misrepresentation, the literal fact remains that defendant
merely claimed that even if he had been sleeping, which he denies,
"sleeping" does not constitute "camping, "
and the act of "sleeping" cannot reasonably "offend"
the government (SEE Motion To Dismiss For Lack Of Offense, at
18. Perhaps it was only inexperience which led Ms. Chapman
"The defendant also claims ... that even if he was 'camping,'
his conduct constituted expressive activity which is worthy of
First Amendment protection." 8/
"No case before this court, or before the United States Supreme
Court has ever resulted in a holding that ' sleeping' constitutes
protected speech in any context." 9/
19. As this court is well aware, the Appeals Court for this
District has held:
"(I)n the unusual circumstances of an individual demonstrator's
round-the-clock vigil incidental sleep which occurs during the
course of the vigil must be considered sufficiently expressive
in nature to implicate First Amendment scrutiny in the first
instance." United States v. Stacy Abney, 534 F.2d
984 (1976). (See Also Defendant's
7/ Ibid, at page 3 .
8/ Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss For Lack
of Offense, at page 3.
9/ Ibid, at page 4, COMPARE Motion to Dismiss For Lack
of Offense, at page 2.
Exhibits 1 and 2, submitted at the Motions Hearing on March
25, 1987, AND Motion to Dismiss For Lack of Offense, at pages
2 and 3. )
20. Ms. Chapman's arguments concerning the constitutionality
of "sleeping" serve to highlight the relevance of the
issues currently being litigated in Thomas v. USA, USDC CA 84-3552,
and strengthen Thomas' position in regard to consolidation and
certification to Judge Bryant (SEE Response Of Defendant William
Thomas To The Motion Of The United States To Consolidate Cases
For Trial, filed March 13, 1987, at pages 2 and 3).
21. Counsel's arguments as to the constitutional nature
of "sleeping" are misplaced in the Motion To Dismiss
For Lack Of Offense. 10/ Here, defendant respectfully submits,
the Court should address itself solely to the questions of (A)
whether defendant is reasonably charged with an "offense";
(B) whether defendant can conceivably conduct a meaningful defense
without some indication as to what injury or damage his actions
have caused, or what "legitimate and substantial government
interest" 11/ his actions might have threatened; and (C)
whether it is just, civilized, or rational to impose punishment
in the absence of injury.
22. Despite her chilling idea that the government may legitimately
punish without showing injury, Ms. Chapman
10/ As Ms. Chapman agrees (Government's Opposition at
page 6) the first step taken in the analysis of this argument
must be whether the regulation was "being applied because
of disagreement with the message presented." If necessary
defendant is prepared to undertake that argument in a separate
Motion to Dismiss For Selective Enforcement.
11/ Government's Opposition at page 7.
dichotomously relies on the argument that the Supreme Court
determined the "government's interest was substantial in
(a case where demonstrators proposed to sleep in tents) -- substantial
entough (sic) to justify the restriction on camping" 12/
The fallacy of this argument should be readily apparent.
23. In the past the Government has clearly articulated
its position with regard to the issues and injury of this offense:
A) "The position of the Department of Interior is
that the demonstration is proper, a symbolic campsite is proper,
a continuing presence is proper." Defendant's Exhibit 2,
at page (numbered) 38, lines 24 thru 26.
B) "I am not sure what determination is made if someone
lays down to sleep on a park bench ... but that is really not
the issue here.
24. Black's Law Dictionary, 4th Ed. 1968, at page 1232,
defines "offense" as "a crime or misdemeanor, a
breach of the criminal Law."
25. "Crimes are those wrongs which the government
notices as injurious to the public and punishes in what is called
a 'criminal proceeding' in it's own name" 1 Bish. Crim.
Law, Section 43, re Jacobi, 74 Ohio App. 147, 57 NE.2d
26. "A crime or misdemeanor shall consist in a violation
of a public law in the commission of which there shall be a union
or joint operation of act and intention, or criminal negligence."
Code Ga. 1882 Section 4292. Pen. Code 1910 Section 31.
C) "Camping" defined as the use of park lands
for living accommodation purposes. The regulations banning the
use of parks for living accommodations are designed not to stifle
First Amendment expression, but to protect undesignated parks
from activities for which they are unsuited and the impacts of
which they cannot sustain." Federal Register, Vol. 47, No.
108, page 34302.
"What is at issue here is camping in the park and conducting
what would be typical camping activities in Lafayette Park."
Ibid, at page (numbered) 39, lines 16 thru 22.
12/ Ibid at page 6.
27 . Ms. Chapman agrees (Opposition at page 7) that time,
manner and place restrictions on expressive activity must first
of all be reasonable. REASONABLE, Thomas submits, is a key word
for this Court to bear in mind during its deliberations of this
case. Thomas submits that a regulatory enforcement action which
does not further a substantial Government interest or address
some other damage or injury is unreasonable, and that for this
court to condone unreasonable enforcement actions would severely
cripple the interests of a sane society.
28. Once again the Court should bear in mind that defendant
not asking whether the regulation itself is capable of justification,
but only questioning whether he should be exposed to punishment,
under color of a regulation, merely because the U.S. Attorney
makes the artful shorthand representation that "apparently
sleeping" constitutes the "offense" of "camping."
Thomas believes that his own time is important, and is
sure the Court will agree that the Court's time is valuable.
THEREFORE Defendant urges the Court to save a lot of people
a lot of time and energy, while promoting justice, civilization,
and rationality, by refusing to condone the concept that punishment
is legitimate in the absence of injury, and to dismiss this meritless
Respectfully submitted this ___ day of April, 1987.
Defendant Pro Se
1440 N Street NW, #410
Washington, DC 20005