Homeless Union Tells Sacramento DA It Will File State Bar Complaint

Homeless Union Warns DA They Will Be Challenging His License If He Doesn’t Stop Threatening City of Sacramento for Not Arresting Unhoused

By Crescenzo Vellucci
The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO, CA – The war of words between Sacramento County’s District Attorney and the Sacramento Homeless Union continues, with the DA threatening to sue the city of Sacramento for not violating a federal court order and the union countering Thursday it will go to the State Bar to challenge the DA’s lawyer’s license.

Chief counsel for the union Thursday told Sacramento DA Thien Ho that unless he stops—by this Friday—targeting the city of Sacramento with criminal prosecution for not clearing protected homeless encampments, in compliance with a federal court order, Ho would be reported to the State Bar.

The union cited a new California Supreme Court approved “California Rule of Professional Conduct” rule that makes it mandatory for a lawyer “to inform the State Bar…when (a) lawyer knows of credible evidence that another lawyer (has engaged) in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or reckless or intentional misrepresentation or misappropriation of funds or property that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.”

The union charged, “We believe that your conduct and that of the Office of Sacramento District Attorney under your direction, in importuning the City of Sacramento to violate a federal court order and, more broadly, your threats of criminal prosecution of the City, appropriation of funds and public resources to pursue the criminal investigation of the City…

“…your public solicitation of ordinary citizens to provide ‘evidence’ against unhoused residents of Sacramento and your less than truthful public pronouncements in service of your public campaign against the unhoused by way of your demands on the City, all raise substantial questions as to your honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”

In the letter, Lead Organizer/General Counsel of the California Homeless Union and Attorney for Sacramento Homeless Union Anthony Prince reminded Ho of the DA’s letter to the city of Sacramento Aug. 7 that “included a threat of criminal prosecution against the City if it did not, among other things, clear sixteen (16) unspecified homeless encampments within 30 days.”

Prince added, the city “was—and still remains—under a federal court order from District Judge Troy L. Nunley issued August 3, 2023, enjoining the clearing of encampments due to the extreme heat…for the City to accede to your demand, it would constitute a violation of Judge Nunley’s order. Accordingly, we urged you to immediately rescind” the letter.

The union’s lawyers noted Judge Nunley on Aug. 16 issued a second order extending the injunction to Sept. 1 “with the understanding that Plaintiff Sacramento Homeless Union could file a motion to extend/reinstate the injunction into September, should the evidence support such a motion.”

Prince wrote, “Accordingly, this is to advise you that unless you affirmatively rescind your letter of August 7, 2023, to the City of Sacramento and discontinue your efforts to build a criminal case against the City by 12:00 pm tomorrow, August 25, 2023, we will, pursuant to Rule 8.3 and other applicable provisions of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, file a formal complaint against you with the State Bar of California.”

Prince copied Susana Alcala Wood, City Attorney for the City of Sacramento, and Robert Bonta, Attorney General for the State of California.

Last week, the union informed California Attorney General Bonta Sacramento County’s District Attorney has been “encouraging” the city of Sacramento to break a federal court order that banned sweeping homeless camps because of expected super-heated temperatures that could cause “death” to those unhoused.

For instance, temperatures have hovered near 100 degrees—the city says 90 degrees is hot—for the past few days and are expected to top 102-107 degrees most of this coming week.

And, said the union to the attorney general, DA Ho is playing a major role in encouraging the city to violate the court order.

The union last week asked a federal judge to find the city in contempt of the court’s Aug. 3 order when several homeless camps were swept in apparent violation of the federal court order.

In a brief note to AG Bonta, Prince said, “We wanted to make you aware of the situation described in the message as we believe Mr. Ho has dangerously overstepped his authority as a County District Attorney and is misusing his office to gain a political advantage by demanding that the City act in such a manner tantamount to willful disobedience by the City of Sacramento of a Temporary Restraining Order issued by District Judge Troy L. Nunley (Aug. 3).”

The union and its 2,700 members characterized Ho’s actions as “increasingly strident…to pressure the City of Sacramento to resume currently-enjoined enforcement of its anti-camping ordinances.”

In Ho’s letter to the city early this month, he threatened the city, noting “the people have spoken,” declaring complaints and comments from residents give him a mandate to force the city to arrest those who are among the roughly 10,000 people in Sacramento city and county without homes, despite the federal court’s order for the city to not clear homeless camps.

Ho even rejected a suggestion by the city to go easy on the unhoused if they are arrested. He said the city’s suggestion of mandatory diversion—which avoids criminal penalties for people if they do certain court-ordered things, like community service—would be “inappropriate and unlawful.’

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