Briarmoon Carriage Barn Update; 01-30-07

Resisting Arrest Jury Trial

On 08-08-06 the city trespassed and bulldozed my repaired, structurally sound, architect inspected and approved, historic carriage barn; 20 by 22, story and a half, hay lofted, fireplace, and $7200 dollars worth of contents.

I refused compliance, in writing, with proof of service, every step of the way. And the city should have taken me to court for “contempt”. But instead they abused police authority and used the police department to plan a full blown armed invasion of the property. 28 police officers, 12 to 15 city personnel, 2 bulldozers, 4 dump trucks, and 3 tow trucks


The day of the demolition I was arrested for going onto my own property, crossing their police line (!) I was hauled off to jail, my first arrest, and fined $350 dollars.

I pleaded not guilty and paid the less than $100 dollars for a 12 person jury trial. Just on principal. And dignity. And to expose the city travesties. And this is my third or fourth trial, so I was hoping I’d gotten well-versed enough to actually win a not-guilty verdict.

The trial was yesterday, 01-29-07, and this morning, for final arguments and jury deliberation.

I was not surprised that the jury might find me guilty based on technicalities. And based on that I’m not a lawyer thus much of the evidence did not make it to the table and much of the testimony did not make it through objections. And that the real issues were complicated.

I was disappointed that the jury was unanimous. But the jury instructions do heavy handed pressure for unanimous, which I did not think to challenge. And no one in a courtroom will allow jurors to find out that they have a right to vote their conscience regardless the technicalities. I tried to get away with letting them know.

The judge was very supportive and helpful for the most part. He was fascinated by the issues and eager to get out as much information as I was able to manage to get on the table.

Even though I was found guilty, the judge lowered the fine to the very lowest possible – $50 dollars, plus the standard $175 for court costs and $48 to the city for witness fees. The fine could have been as high as $1000 plus court costs and witness fees. That still would have been worth the fighting of it. Freedom is not free.

The trial was not about whether or not the city had acted appropriately or legally with their invasion, nor whether or not the city had the right to use police as armed thugs, nor whether or not the police falsely imprisoned me by obeying their orders to initially block me in my home driveway with their vehicle, nor whether or not the actual arrest was false, nor whether or not a city can tape you of your own property without a restraining order or contempt order.

The trial was simply about – did I stiffen up or resist at all once handcuffed. Those other issues, the real issues, would be other law suits against the city by me. Which answers the question, why did the city not drop the charges? Because the city wanted to create the misrepresentation that the court approves their building confiscation procedures.

It amazes me that the city boasts that their whole armed property invasion operation was “court approved” because of a guilty verdict on the technicality of “resisting” during the act of an unethical arrest. A little frustrating. But the truth gets out eventually. Even if the local media got a TIF district corporate welfare birthday present from Mr. City Manager.

The press was there, and hopefully will cover the trial well. But, with the press, one must remember to say only the information most important that will fit the length of their one sound-bite. If you give them more, they may use the lamest portion taken out of context.

I defended myself and our rights, and for that I feel very proud. I feel frustrated by how complicated and challenging is the system of “justice”.

This was a win situation for me/us either way, regardless the outcome. To challenge their practices, to give them a run for their money (that would be OUR money, taxpayer money).

I actually had a closing statement this time. And this time the closing statement was actually well done. Except the last two minutes when I did not properly prepare the ending of the statement, and inadvertently pulled a smart-alec move. Could I have lost respect from the entire jury at the end by them thinking I had completely insulted the entire courtroom situation and their time there? I do not know. I hope not. Battle fatigue.

When the city did not think they could win on their actual arrest allegation of “obstructing an officer” they were allowed to change the charge to “resisting arrest” because both have the same statute number. I felt that was unfair. There was much hair-splitting that ignored the bigger picture. But doing the trial was still worth it.

The city takes peoples’ buildings two ways.

The first is that the city refuses to honor the grandfather clause and demands that the building or home be dismantled and reassembled (impossible for most people), or bulldozed.

The second is that the city alleges that the cost of repairs could or did exceed their little math formula which is their technicality loophole definition of “dilapidated”.

Either way, the city then does a trespass, bulldoze, double-bill, attach it to your property tax, put the mortgage into foreclosure, and the owner into bankrupsy and homelessness. The city then picks up the property for back taxes. They get the property without paying eminent domain just compensation, and without due process.

It is really a sick procedure that completely devastates the owner so that they are not able to fight back. There are thought to be 200 to 300 victims currently. I do not feel I was allowed to adequately convey that information to the jury members.

Some of the many things that I learned at this trial:

  1. The difference between being taken into custody verses being actually arrested. That when if you are arrested, deliberately or accidentally, you need to go into complete docile mode once they state the magic words “you are under arrest”. This arrest was not deliberate on my part, and I did not hear the magic words, nor did I realize that I had been arrested rather than taken into custody.

    Ten persons getting deliberately arrested with no resistance is a powerful way to demonstrate an injustice. The ten resulting jury trials are ten chances to force a clean-up of wrong doing. Plus you don’t get the “resisting arrest” fine.

  2. A police report is considered “hearsay”! Even if the officer swears, signs, and notarizes it. They can only use it to “refresh their memory”.
  3. No document, photo, video, etc can be submitted without the maker of the document testifying to making it.
  4. You would not believe the amount of information that the jury is not allowed to know.
  5. If the city argues to limit your evidence, they do not have to abide by the same limitations.
  6. That if two judges’ order conflict, they do not cancel out each other.
  7. That in a civil matter, the citizen must take the matter back to court for non-compliance, but our city just uses the police as their personal little army and takes matters into their own hands.

The city attorney accused me of not respecting the law. She makes a living by protecting our ultimate law breaker, our current Mr. City Manager. People think she represents the citizens, and citizen rights, and the best interests of the city. She doesn’t. She represents Mr. City Manager while he walks on the majority of us and helps special interest take us to the cleaners. She helps write the loopholes into our local ordinances so that Mr. City Manager can pretend to be invincible.

I stiffened up while handcuffs were put on me illegally. She helps Mr. City Manager to steal our homes and buildings.

I love our democratic system. I am so proud to live in this country. I am incredibly embarrassed by the current abuse to our system. I’m excited about learning so much through this process.

People say that the city has backed off considerably on their unethical practices due to my willingness to challenge them. But we need to repair the checks and balances so that abuse of authority is no longer an option for them.

We need fair representation. Or we need to do another Boston Tea Party!

We need neighborhood district representation rather than at-large voting. And we need our 27 ward supervisors that we are supposed to have. We need a real citizen Fire and Police commission board that is NOT chosen by Mr. City Manager, nor “trained” by him. Then our city police and laborers and city attorneys will be protected from city administration exploitation. We need a real Citizen Appeal Board that is NOT chosen by Mr. City Manager, or “trained” by him.

Then we will get restitution to the people who had their homes and buildings and lives bulldozed.

And then the city will replace my carriage barn.