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Judge Turns Down Rose Lynne’s Plea for Jail, Orders Probation

Rosalyn Switzen, better known as Rose Lynne, the City Hall gadfly, begged for jail time Wednesday when she was sentenced for disrupting a City Council meeting.

San Diego Municipal Judge Robert Stahl Jr. refused to send the 73-year-old woman to jail and instead placed her on three years’ probation. He ordered her to perform 100 hours of volunteer work.

Stahl also ordered Rose Lynne not to violate any of the rules on addressing the council as a condition of her probation. If she is found in violation, she could return to court and be sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1,000.

“Please send me to jail! I’ll go on a hunger strike!” Rose Lynne exclaimed in court.

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She accused the prosecutor, Deputy City Atty. James Chapin, of committing perjury, and frequently interrupted the judge during her sentencing.

She was convicted Monday of the misdemeanor offense after a jury deliberated 50 minutes.

“She has been continually disruptive of the City Council meetings,” Chapin said. “She stretches the rules. She does not speak on the topic. She does not stop talking.”

Chapin asked that Rose Lynne be barred from attending council meetings for 90 days and ordered to stay on the topic of the meeting if she addresses the council in the future.

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Rose Lynne’s attorney, Sandy Downen, said such an order would violate her client’s First Amendment right to free speech.

Stahl agreed he could not bar Rose Lynne from attending council meetings, but ruled she must not violate its regulations on time limits for speakers.

Downen successfully argued against imposition of a fine, saying Rose Lynne has taken a vow of poverty. She said she lives at the Pickwick Hotel downtown.

The disturbance took place at the Jan. 13 council meeting. On a tape recording of the meeting played for the jury, Mayor Maureen O’Connor could be heard warning Rose Lynne she would be cited if she continued to speak. Rose Lynne could be heard yelling back repeatedly at the mayor.

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Rose Lynne, who wants elected officials to attend a two-hour “Ombudscience” training seminar, has promised to appeal her conviction.

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