LOGAN — A woman convicted of trespassing for going to a Logan transit station after being banned for telling a fellow bus rider to use birth control said she'll do her court-ordered community service at Planned Parenthood.

In a nonjury trial, Logan Municipal Justice Court Judge Cheryl Russell rejected Laura Stevens' argument that she was exercising her First Amendment rights when she told a mother of six to use a birth-control patch.

"The bottom line is you were told not to go to the (Cache Valley) Transit Center, and you did," Russell told Stevens, who represented herself at the trial. "It's that simple."

The prosecutor, senior city attorney Lee W. Edwards, often objected to Stevens' questions and statements, and the judge repeatedly instructed her on court procedures and explained to her what types of questions she could ask.

She was arrested and cited for trespassing June 20, a few days after she confronted the woman, who was Hispanic. Stevens said the woman's children were running amok and misbehaving, and she was just offering advice.

But Cache Valley Transit District officials banned Stevens from the district's buses and property because the woman with six children complained she had felt threatened.

During the trial, an official for the company contracted to run the bus service in Cache Valley testified Stevens had made similar comments to the same woman Feb. 2.

Andrew Foster, who works for Laidlaw Transit Services Inc., said Stevens had signed an agreement not to do it again.

When she did it again, Foster said, she claimed she was exercising her right to free speech. "She felt her First Amendment, free-speech rights had been violated," said Foster.

Stevens asked Transit District and city officials whether they had actually seen or heard her talking to the woman. When they answered they hadn't, she claimed their testimony was hearsay.

When she took the stand in her own defense, however, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself and declined to testify.

Stevens also tried to ask witnesses how they felt about overpopulation, but Russell ruled those questions had no bearing on the case. Russell also rejected Stevens' motion to dismiss the charge on First Amendment grounds.

Stevens has until Sept. 21 to either pay an $82 fine or complete the 14 hours of community service.


E-mail: mikewennergren@yahoo.com