Woman Who Refused to Wear Mask Convicted of Trespassing, Says Justice Wasn't Served

A woman from Southern California who refused to wear a face mask or comply with requests to leave a grocery store last year was convicted Wednesday of trespassing and obstructing a business or customers, the Associated Press reported. Standing outside the courthouse after her conviction, Marianne Campbell Smith said that "justice was not served."

Smith added that she still accepted the ruling "because it was important to talk about these issues today." Orange County Superior Court Judge John Zitny sentenced her to 40 hours of community service, one year of informal probation and ordered her to pay a $200 fine, the Orange County Register reported.

Smith, 57, was arrested at the Mother's Market store in Costa Mesa on August 15, 2020. A demonstration against a statewide mask mandate aimed at curbing COVID-19 infections was taking place nearby at the time, according to the AP.

Smith said that she can't wear a face mask because of a medical condition. Additionally, a lawyer for Smith said that her goal in entering the grocery store that day was not to protest, but to buy food, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

California Woman Convicted For Trespassing
After being convicted of trespassing and obstructing a business or customers for refusing to wear a mask in a California grocery store, Marianne Campbell Smith said that "justice was not served." Smith, left, and her attorney, Frederick W. Fascenelli leave the West Justice Center, October 20 in Westminster, California, during a lunch break in her trial. Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP

In a statement in court before sentencing, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the case centered on property rights.

"The defendant wanted to make this about masks and freedom," Spitzer said. "This trial was about a private business and workers just trying to comply with health orders. Instead, she bullied her way around the store and yelled at masked elderly shoppers that they were part of a government conspiracy."

Smith said she cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition and her lawyer said she went into the store to get food, not to protest.

The Register newspaper said the case marked one of few times in which arrests or criminal charges involving mask requirements have been pursued in Orange County, where police and prosecutors have focused on education and outreach regarding coronavirus restrictions.

Another woman arrested with Smith previously accepted a plea deal requiring a donation to a coronavirus relief fund and admitted to an infraction for refusing to leave the store when a police officer ordered her to leave the premises at the owner's request. A third woman who entered with them apparently left before police responded.

Defense attorney Frederick Fascenelli questioned why Smith wasn't charged with violating mask requirements that had been added to Costa Mesa's municipal code.

"This thing is all political," Fascenelli said. "They are trying to shoehorn in these trespassing charges because they don't want to touch the third rail of politics that is a mask mandate."

Supporters Hug Smith
Marianne Campbell Smith, who refused to leave a Costa Mesa grocery store, was convicted of trespassing on Wednesday after becoming the only person to go on trial in Orange County for not following pandemic-driven face-covering mandates at local businesses. Smith, center, is greeted by supporters as she leaves the West Justice Center, October 20 in Westminster, California, during a lunch break in her trial. Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP