Mountain View Voice

News - January 7, 2011

Stanford students may defend Ideafarm

Local provocateur's case might become part of legal clinic

by Nick Veronin

Wo'O Ideafarm may turn out to have some fairly prestigious representation when his case ultimately goes to trial.

The local "location-less" man, known for the provocative messages he espouses with his twin wooden placards on the streets of Mountain View, may be represented by Stanford law students when he appears before a judge to face charges that he has violated numerous local ordinances.

The self-styled public speaker has come under increasing pressure from City Attorney Jannie Quinn since he was arrested in September on charges of trespassing in City Hall.

Quinn's office contends that the main issue with Ideafarm is that he very often blocks sidewalks and creates dangerous traffic distractions with his signs. Ideafarm maintains that the city is only using its municipal codes to silence his "unpopular message."

At a pretrial hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Jan. 3, Nisreen Baroudi, Ideafarm's public defender, requested that the upcoming trial be postponed because it is likely that Stanford's criminal defense clinic will take on Ideafarm's case.

According to David Patton, a visiting assistant professor of law at Stanford, the clinic, which is new this quarter, partners with the Palo Alto branch of the Superior Court and gives law students the opportunity to perform legal research — and in many cases act as full-fledged lawyers in defending criminal cases. Every case will be supervised by a professional lawyer, he said.

Patton declined to talk about the Ideafarm case because all of the details have yet to be worked out.

No new charges were brought against Ideafarm on Jan. 3, when he appeared before Criminal Court Judge Theodore Zayner in Palo Alto.

Nor was Ideafarm taken into custody, though he said he was "80 percent sure" he would be. Instead, the court continued to grant him "Supervised Own Recognizance," meaning that he may remain free as long as he promises to return to court at his next assigned date.

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