Sacramento Homeless Union files Calif. State Bar complaint against Sacramento County DA Thien Ho

Another salvo was served yesterday in the increasingly acrimonious fight to address the Sacramento area's growing homeless population. That salvo was directed at Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho. 

Since taking office earlier this year, the first-term district attorney has become an active participant in the inter-governmental battle on homelessness. This time, however, a complaint was filed with the California State Bar on behalf of a homeless advocacy group. 

The complaint was initiated by Berkeley, Calif.-based attorney Anthony D. Prince on behalf of the Sacramento Homeless Union. The complaint alleges Mr. Ho has violated California Rule of Professional Conduct 3.10. 

Specifically, Prince's cover letter to the state bar asserts that although Ho is not a party in the ongoing litigation between the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento Homeless Union, "he has a direct interest in the case given the threat of criminal prosecution and otherwise press the city [Sacramento] to continue the clearing of homeless encampments is undermined by the injunctive relief that plaintiff Homeless Union has obtained thus far and may obtain going forward."

On August 4, U.S. District Court Judge Troy Nunley granted the Sacramento Homeless Union's request to stop the city of Sacramento from clearing encampments during the recent heat wave. 

State bar Rule 3.10 states, "A lawyer shall not threaten to present criminal, administrative, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute."

Unlike his immediate predecessor Ann Marie Schubert, Ho has taken a visible stance on dealing with homeless encampments, including the threat of legal action against the city of Sacramento if encampments are not cleared. Business and neighborhood advocacy groups have embraced his efforts. 

Prince's complaint also addressed a survey Ho's office conducted that the DA claims found widespread dissatisfaction with handling the area's unhoused. That survey has received extensive media exposure, and Ho has used it as a bargaining chip against the city of Sacramento. 

The complaint says that Ho has been "whipping up anti-homeless sentiment," and following the survey, "the Homeless Union has documented an increase in the number of physical attacks on homeless persons and encampments..."

Separately, on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against San Franciso seeking modification of an injunction limiting their ability to clear encampments while not providing enough shelter spaces. 

The entire complaint can be viewed below. 

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