6 More Santa Ana Homeless Camping Cases Dismissed

A municipal court judge dismissed charges Friday against six homeless people accused of illegal camping on public property, because of a mistake in the way the 3-year-old cases were handled.

The decision by Central Municipal Court Judge Charles Margines leaves one homeless man who wants to fight his case in a trial.

Dozens of others who were cited under Santa Ana's controversial anti-camping ordinance, passed in 1992, cannot be located and face arrest warrants.

The misdemeanor cases from 1993 were revived by the district attorney's office in June, soon after the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ordinance.

In October, Margines dismissed charges against eight homeless people, finding the defendants had not formally waived their right to a speedy trial when the cases originally were delayed as the ordinance faced a challenge before the California Supreme Court.

On Friday, he ruled the same mistake had been made in the cases of another six defendants.

Attorney Todd Green, whose firm is representing many of the defendants for free, said one of his clients, James Eichorn, elected to waive his right to a speedy trial and fight the case.

"He believes [the ordinance] is unconstitutional, and he still has no choice but to sleep in public," Green said.

The attorney said he will ask the judge in January to reconsider defense contentions that the Santa Ana ordinance discriminates against those who are "involuntarily homeless."

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