He Should Have Stayed In The Deli
by Bruce McEwen, December 2, 2009
Apologies to Mr. Jayson Kain of Albion and Minnesota, a bi-coastal pot person whose travails were described here last week. But something got lost in translation; Mr. Kain's “appetite” for marijuana had nothing to do with his desire to deploy cannabis as a weight control agent. His argument was that he simply smoked a lot of it, which is why he was growing it in large quantities at Albion.
Remember Dennis Day of Fort Bragg? The charming young Fort Bragg man who made those delicious sandwiches at the Safeway deli? The kid everyone likes? Dennis is again looking at a lot of legal pastrami.
The kid had been in the Ten Mile Court last spring for car theft, a bumbling, non-mercenary sort of affair that found him drunk and needing a ride home. So he smashed a window of transportation that didn't belong to him and drove it around the parking lot of his place of employment, Safeway. That was on November 10th of last year. He was put on probation for that one.
But young Mr. Day has since accumulated more charges — seven more to be exact and a couple of them are quite serious.
The public defender’s office had been in negotiations with the DA for what is called a *global resolution* of Mr. Day's legal difficulties, meaning to take care of all the charges in one fell swoop.
Mr. Day had agreed to plead guilty to lewd and lascivious acts with a minor among other things, a 13-year-old girl for god's sake, and he'd get a three-six-or eight-year “triad” in state prison. Moreover, his plea would count as a “strike,” meaning another similar offense could very probably result in a 25-to-life sentence in prison. And he must register for life as a sex offender. Dennis Day is 22-years-old.
Now, as part of his global resolution for all his new crimes, all of them attributed to pure incompetence attached to what appears to be his major gift for self-destruction, Mr. Day would plead to the sex charge and the DA would let the kid slide on the attendant charge of obstructing an officer in his duties.
Since that November night last year in the parking lot of the Fort Bragg Safeway, Mr. Day had smashed the window of another vehicle at a Fort Bragg gas station, and yet another back at the Safeway parking lot. Included in the pile of new charges was one for assault with a deadly weapon which, loosely considered, seems to be his own brain.
The most sensible stipulation of Mr. Day's global resolution is that he see Dr. Cushing for a psychological evaluation before he's sentenced on January 8th.
If he'd stuck to making sandwiches Dennis Day might have saved his own life.
Other than Mr. Day's global affairs, the court calendar was so light last week the judges had it cleared before I even got out of bed.
A few lawyers came and went, tidying up details. I cornered the genial and astute defense attorney David Eyster to ask why the wheels of justice were turning so slowly on Thanksgiving week. He said he was surprised I had even bothered to come over the hill this week. “Traditionally,” Eyster said, “this is the week lawyers get caught up on various small matters.” We chatted about courthouse politics, and he gave me his high opinion of attorney Ann Moorman, who, he said, was running for judge. I asked if he was going to run for DA, but Eyster was non-committal. He did, however, give me a quote I felt pertinent: “The DA has to be able to say ‘No’ to law enforcement.”
Law enforcement, of course, feels that everybody they bring in is guilty and if the DA so much as hesitates to prosecute the cops tend to feel betrayed. But there are the taxpayers to consider. DA's everywhere are already in triage mode and young men, many of them simply young and dumb like Dennis Day, are stacked four high in state prison gyms. You can't lock up everyone. Most taxpayers want the truly dangerous locked away, and would hope the DA can discern who's truly dangerous and who isn't.
Which reminds me: I need to get caught up on an obligation. I owe the Hospitality House in Fort Bragg a few words of appreciation. I came to Mendoland with the ambition of writing for this newspaper with nothing more than my notebook and the clothes on my back. If not for the Hospitality House, I would very likely never have accomplished my goal. They took me in, gave me room and board, and asked very little of me in return. I was given a household chore, like everyone else — in my case, the house laundry — and the rest of the day was mine to do as I wished. I called the AVA and was assigned the Ten Mile Courthouse as a beat. I began work on my birthday, appropriately enough, January 9th. Since then, my career has soared to the point that I am probably the highest paid weekly newspaper reporter in the entire world.
In my own humble opinion, the Hospitality House in Fort Bragg is the finest, most elegantly conceived homeless shelter I’ve ever seen — and as a professional journalist, I’ve seen more than a few. The Hospitality House gives a person a sense of dignity and acceptance that I have never encountered in similar institutions. Of course a great many “career bums” mooch off the Hospitality House’s good graces. This is to be expected, I suppose. But for those who want to get up on their own, Hospitality House is a life saver. I stayed there for six full months, and I saw many people get back on their feet, going from indigence to self-sufficiency during the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Bill and Sue Gibson are chiefly responsible for the Hospitality House. The Gibsons live in Mendocino now, but used to live in Boonville. Mr. Gibson is a retired U.S. Navy chaplain, and a man of such integrity and abiding humanity that even a sour old cynic like myself could never find fault with him. But still, he’s a military man, and practical and pragmatic, as he must be to run such a ship, and I’ve seen him properly keelhaul slackers and moochers. If you want to make a Holiday contribution to something that works, that really works, contribute to the Hospitality House.