TOP STORY 
Police Entrapment Slapped Down by a Superior Court Judge 
 
The Long Arm of the Law
Plainclothes Park Decoy’s Arrest Case Gets Nullified 

An Undercover Cop who Makes Himself Available—Discriminates 
 

By Jack Nichols 
Nullifying on June 11 the arrest of a former resident of Modesto, California who was charged with soliciting sex from a decoy plainclothes patrolman, the Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami, cited a 1996 California Supreme Court opinion denouncing such “sting” operations as a kind of officially-endorsed discrimination against homosexuals. 

The ramifications of the Modesto decision must be touted on the Internet everywhere, say sexual civil liberties advocates who add that the news of this ruling, along with the Superior Court Judge’s well- reasoned arguments supporting it should also be spread through a variety of means. 

Chief Deputy District Attorney, Jerry Bergen, says that Judge Girolami’s ruling could easily strike down similar police stings that are now conducted in cities and towns nationwide.  A common belief in many police precincts is that police entrapments discourage an undesirable upsurge in gay male encounters that would otherwise take place in public parks. 

Attorney Bruce W. Nickerson, who won the state’s 1996 ruling is going on the offense in Modesto and says he will attempt to get nullified the convictions at least 20 other males arrested by plainsclothesmen in the area since 1995.  

“Of all the discriminations directed against homosexuals,” said Nickerson, “the worst is to be locked up and deprived of your liberty because you’re gay.” 

Bob Guthrie, Modesto’s Deputy Police Chief, says he’s not targeting gays, but is just trying to enforce the law. Now, however, he says he’ll shut down his department’s plainclothes operations. “It makes no sense to run a special operation if it’s not consistent with a court’s ruling.” 

Attorney Nickerson implies that Modesto is not alone in its enforcement of the sexual politics of machismo played out by its police. “It’s happening everywhere,” he announced, “from Stockton to Bakersfield.” 

Nickerson says he won the Court’s  favor by pointing out that police departments don’t utilize the same methods when they attempt to discourage heterosexual liaisons in public places. A review of Modesto court records, explains the canny lawyer, shows that there have been no arrests of heterosexuals using plainclothes decoys other than those involving financial exchanges. 

District Attorney Begen insisted he wouldn’t hesitate to go after heterosexuals if anybody were to complain about their public presence. But, according to his records, no one has complained about public displays of affection involving heterosexuals. Homosexuals in parks and other public locales, he insists, do, however, elicit complaints. 

Begen raised spectres of unbridled homosexual license engulfing Modesto since the Court’s ruling against police misbehavior now, in fact, appears to be law. “I hope it doesn’t give them (the homosexuals) license,” he said, “It doesn’t make sense to arrest individuals (accused of public sex) if you can’t prosecute them.” .