Perennial inmate prepared to serve life

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MACHIAS (AP) – A man’s latest criminal trespass arrest mirrored the 23 previous ones: he went to the Washington County Courthouse, lingered in the lobby after the building closed and gave a handwritten document to the sheriff’s deputy who took him into custody.

The man known simply as Leigh – he has legally renounced his last name – has spent about nine years in the county jail. He said Friday he is prepared to spend the rest of his life behind bars in order to get a hearing on his 1993 arrest and felony conviction for reckless conduct with a firearm.

“Leigh is certainly a persistent man who truly believes that his protest is a just one,” said Jeffrey Davidson, his latest court-appointed lawyer.

Prior to his 1993 arrest, Leigh spent 18 years as an employee of the Maine Marine Patrol.

His latest arrest came Friday, two days after a Superior Court jury that deliberated for only 12 minutes found him guilty of two counts of criminal trespass for offenses committed in 2004 and 2005.

Justice E. Allen Hunter sentenced Leigh to consecutive six-month sentences, but let him go for time served because he had been in jail since April 5, 2005.

Leigh, who has no home other than the jail, spent two days doing personal errands around town before his arrest Friday. He gave the arresting deputy, Jeffrey Bishop, the document explaining the reasons for his peaceful protest.

Davidson started to establish during the trial that Leigh lives at the jail, noting that the arresting officer gave 47 Court St. on his report of the 2004 incident.

But Leigh asked his lawyer to cut off that line of questioning, lest he be acquitted on the theory that no one can trespass at his own residence.

In gaining another guilty verdict, Leigh and Davidson now will appeal the conviction to Supreme Judicial Court.

Leigh contends his protest is justified by what he believes was a conspiracy to falsely arrest and convict him in 1993, but Hunter ruled that such a defense is not available under the law, Davidson said.

“Leigh has a different opinion, and that’s why we will be appealing Justice Hunter’s ruling. We will seek clarification as to whether civil disobedience can be used as a justification defense,” Davidson said.

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