SC 11 case down to four and falling

The Santa Cruz Police Department and the DA have a long history of massive overreaching when drawing up charges against activists. If you mess someone up in a drunken brawl you're looking at a misdemeanor assault charge. But if, in the midst of a protest, you enter an abandoned building, you get misdemeanor trespass, felony conspiracy to trespass, felony vandalism and felony conspiracy to vandalize.

But this overreaching is effective, too. There is a simple reason why most DAs can proudly tout a high-90s percent conviction rate: not because the defendant has been proved guilty, but because most cases don't go to trial. When you are a defendant who was a hapless participant in a protest now facing several felonies, who's not going to jump at a plea deal offering a few misdemeanors? This felony threat provides judicial leverage.

The SCPD and DA also have a long history of delaying and withholding evidence. This is a pattern and practice that needs to be addressed by something more serious than a paltry $500 fine. Until the courts are courageous enough to reward prosecutorial misconduct with real sanctions, say dismissing cases, this abuse will continue.

Wes Modes, Felton

What's the rush?

Thank you to our county Board of Supervisors members who voted unanimously for a 45-day moratorium on a new gun shop slated to open. The vote gives planning staff time to study the potential impacts firearm sales may have on public health, safety and welfare, and consider zoning rules before anyone seeks permission to open a firearms store.

Parents, teachers, principals, women's crisis workers, victims, nurses, school board members and supervisors, W.I.L.P.F.A., many gun enthusiasts, gun owners, gun show radio hosts, retired police, Brady Campaign contacts ... and a few interesting folks who think we are going to be taken over by an unknown foreign boogyman any day packed the chambers.

We will all have to wait, and we should. What's the rush? This controversial business should have to go through the same hoops that your hair salon, day care and dry-cleaning business do.

Regina Henderson, Santa Cruz

Train noise complaints amusing

It was amusing to read many complaints about noise from a train passing through area neighborhoods during the holidays and disturbing residents. Maybe those letter writers should try living near an airport or a major freeway overflowing with loud truck traffic. Would their complaints about noise make the noise disappear?

Ken Maus, Capitola