The score at the end of round two of Kitty Corner v. City of Sausalito: 2-0.
A homeless man, acting as his own attorney in federal court, triumphed again last week when a judge continued the temporary restraining order preventing the City of Sausalito and its highest-ranking officials from forcing the man’s two cats to live in a cage.
The feline fight began more than six weeks ago when Phil Deschamps, 35, built a small structure for the pets behind his tent at the city-sanctioned homeless encampment located on the Marinship tennis courts. The structure extends the tent, providing kittens Cat and Early with more room and a place for a litter box.
After the Sausalito police allegedly threatened to tear down his tent and structure, Deschamps filed for a temporary restraining order. The City of Sausalito, demonstrating a win-at-any-cost attitude, decided to send in the cat’s meow to fight the kitties: international law firm Sheppard Mullin, a 94-year-old legal heavyweight that commanded more than $867 billion in revenue last year.
The first hearing, held via Zoom on March 11, resulted in Judge Edward Chen granting the temporary restraining order, which instructed the City of Sausalito, et al., to keep their paws off Deschamps’ belongings.
The judge also directed the parties to attend mediation. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached during the session, and everyone returned to court on March 24.
During last week’s hearing, Alex Merritt, a partner in Sheppard Mullin, argued that Deschamps’ tent extension is a fire hazard, referring to a declaration by the Southern Marin fire marshal that there must be eight feet between the tennis court fence and all tent platforms.
Chen, swayed by the safety argument, ruled in favor of Sausalito, withdrawing the temporary restraining order.
Deschamps, in a last-ditch effort, ran around the tennis court, showing Chen via mobile phone video that most of the other tent platforms were less than eight feet from the fence.
Merritt accused the campers of moving their wood platforms closer to the fence, though he gave no reason why they would. Deschamps denied it and showed that the entire wheelchair ramp leading to a tent actually abuts the fence.
With his impromptu video demonstrations, Deschamps pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat. Chen reversed his decision and kept the temporary restraining order in effect. The parties were again instructed to attend mediation. If that fails, the next hearing takes place on March 31.
Stay tuned for the outcome of this cat and mouse game, where underdog Deschamps currently has the City of Sausalito and its prestigious law firm chasing their tails.