A Eugene homeless man is trying to convince a judge to dismiss three trespassing charges he received after Eugene police arrested him late at night for sleeping on public property.
Rod Adams, the 61-year-old defendant, and his lawyer, Joe Connelly, argue that his arrests violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution and involve the broader issue of criminalization of homelessness.
Adams is charged with three counts of criminal trespass in the second degree, a low-level misdemeanor under Oregon law.
“This is exactly the venue to educate people in,” Adams says. “Who can do the jail time? I will.”
Adams has been awaiting his day in court since May, but his trials have been postponed several times. He originally sought to invoke the defense of choice of evils, or the “necessity defense,” arguing he had no choice but to commit a crime due to a threat of imminent danger, a necessity to act and no practical alternative, but a judge excluded that defense from the trial.
Instead, according to its motion to dismiss, the defense argues that there are insufficient beds for the number of homeless in Eugene; that Adams is not eligible for many of the available beds; and, on the nights in question, there were no beds available at the Eugene Mission.
Eugene Weekly first wrote about Adams’ trials in May this year in an article titled “44 Counts of Homelessness.” Since he moved to Eugene nine years ago, police have arrested him 40 times for a variety of minor crimes that may have been avoidable had he had a place to stay.
Adams is also controversial for yelling at and filming Eugene police officers’ interactions with himself and others downtown.
As of press time, the first of Adams’ three trials is scheduled for 9 am Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Eugene Municipal Court. The other two are scheduled for December, but he and Connelly filed a motion to dismiss all three charges.
Adams and local homeless advocate Ken Neubeck invite members of the community to support Adams at the trial.
“If we get a hung jury or an outright ‘not guilty,’ then my guess is they’ll dismiss the other charges,” Adams says. “But if not, good; we may educate a further 12 people, which I’m all for that.”