A case that spawned a civil suit and a criminal trial originally set for Feb. 21 is lumbering through the court system while generating questions regarding the litigation of social causes and where the homeless fit in both state and federal systems.
Now set for April 5, a criminal trial of three of the city’s homeless — Jerry Burton, Therese Howard and Randy Russell — is the latest venue in an increasingly complicated fight over “sweeps” allowed under a Denver city ordinance that bans urban camping.
Jason Flores-Williams has levied allegations of unfair treatment and constitutional violations by both the city and the courts, documented in a series of emails to media and stakeholders. During a Feb. 16 hearing on dispositive motions, Flores-Williams characterized the court during the proceeding as showing “bias and prejudice” toward him and the defendants and said the judge allowed prosecutors to submit a 34-person witness list eight days after deadline.
According to a motion filed with the Denver District Court Feb. 7, the defendants in the criminal case claimed the court should exclude all 34 witnesses for “severe untimeliness and gross constitutional violation,” claiming it amounted to “trial by ambush,” the motion said, a violation of Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.