Judge terminates case of homeless rights activist who spent a day in jail

The real culprit was paperwork.

Terese Howard and her attorney, Darren O'Connor. Nov. 22, 2019. (Donna Bryson/Denverite)

Terese Howard and her attorney, Darren O'Connor. Nov. 22, 2019. (Donna Bryson/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The case that sent a Denver homelessness rights activist to jail for a day was cleared up in less than 10 minutes at a court hearing Friday.

Terese Howard of Denver Homeless Out Loud submitted proof she had completed her sentence of 40 hours of community service for a 2016 violation of Denver’s urban camping ban, so the city’s attorney withdrew a request that could have sentenced her to jail. Denver County Court Judge Andre L. Rudolph declared that the “case will be terminated as successful.”

Because the city previously had no record that she had completed her community service, it had wanted her probation revoked, which could have meant a jail sentence instead of community service. Now that she’s proven she did her community service, the city is no longer asking that the probation be revoked.

Rudolph also canceled a $50 warrant fee charged to Howard.

Howard had been recording police telling people to clear their belongings from a stretch of Stout Street in Five Points on Oct. 25 when an officer approached, told her she was named in a warrant, and arrested her. She was taken to jail just after 8 a.m. that day and released at about 6 p.m. without being required to pay bail.

Police spokesman Jay Casillas said at the time that Howard was arrested because a warrant had been issued and that she was targeted because of her activities.

During a Nov. 4 court hearing, Judge Rudolph had told Howard that the warrant was issued after city attorneys last spring noticed they had no record proving she had completed her community service. Rudolph had said at that Nov. 4 hearing that he could find no record that the city had informed Howard of its search for the records.

On Friday, Rudolph rebuffed attempts by Howard’s attorney, Darren O’Connor, to raise questions about why Howard was not informed. Rudolph said Friday that it had been Howard’s responsibility to ensure the court had a record that she had completed her community service, a point O’Connor acknowledged.

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