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Ginger Marin, Bionic Lady, Journalist, Actor, Author

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LEGAL BLOG

Award of Attorneys Fees: The False Non-Equivalency

William-Shakespeare-Quotes-1024x625.jpgNo one forces any party to get an attorney. It’s for that party’s own convenience.  On the other hand, the party litigating pro se (self represented; also “pro per”) usually does so for lack of funds to pay for an attorney.  The party with an attorney saves his/her own time and effort; the party without any attorney must work full-time as her own attorney.  He is required by the courts to follow every rule and meet a standard of the court’s own making. Right now the courts refuse to award any attorneys fees to a litigant operating as his own attorney with the rationale being that the pro se did not expend any money for a “real” attorney to represent him.

Why should the “wealthier” of the two parties be rewarded for paying for an attorney? Or rather, why should the person representing himself be denied compensation for all the work he had to do in a case?  When a pro see litigant is a defendant in a case, it becomes even more unfair, because he is the one being hauled into court by someone else and being forced to defend himself.

Many people operating pro se work a regular job.  Is one to assume that those people magically get to attend every court appearance for free or that the filing of a document in court may not require them to take time off from work?  Who’s paying?  I would argue that the pro se litigant pays as much as the wealthier one and that pro se litigants should be able to recover “attorneys” fees just like those who pay to have someone else represent them so they can go about their lives carefree.

The legal system is entirely unfair in this regard.  Either all parties are entitled to fees or no parties are entitled.  I prefer that no party get fees.  Often the legal system requires that each party pay his/her own way, however, there are many statutes that allow for the award of attorney fees and costs. In many states if you simply make a motion and lose or oppose a motion and lose or you act or don’t act, you can be subject to sanctions and have to pay the other party’s attorneys’ fees.  The whole process should be done away with. If the wealthier party can afford an attorney, good for him, but the less fortunate should not be penalized which is precisely what’s happening now.

A lawyer can change anywhere from $250 to $600 or more an hour. That’s far above your average worker’s salary. That means you might have to pay those exorbitant costs if attorneys’ fees are awarded against you. And since the attorney can just claim that he spent 10 hours working on a motion, for example, you’d have to pay for his 10 hours and more in the way of costs (filing the motion, travel, parking fees, etc.).  He has offered no real proof, for one thing. It’s simply his word. And if he did spend 10 hours preparing a motion, you can bet the pro se litigant was forced to spend twice to three times as much time on a motion or an opposition to the attorney’s motion because the pro se has far fewer resources to pull from. 

If the wealthier party had to absorb his own costs at all times, maybe then they’d be a little more judicious in how they work the case. A wealthier party up against a less fortunate party will try to take advantage, knowing that the opposition can never prevail in getting his or her own attorney fee awards. They’ll just keep rolling over you, happy to force you into bankruptcy. They can play dirty tricks and essentially get away with it because there is no punishment for them.

This is not a justice system. This is a farce.

Article by Ginger Marin. To learn about her acting, visit Ginger Marin’s IMDB page.

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Little Stupid Civil Case: Part 2: Defendants’ Big Mistake, Filing a Cross-Complaint

As mentioned in Little Stupid Civil Case: Part 1: How Far 1 Company Will Go to Destroy 2 Lives, the plaintiff home building company sued the defendants using eight different aliases and “aka” (which means ‘also known as’). Usually a person is sued with an “aka” attached if they are known as a different person (for example, a divorced woman going back to using her maiden name) or for doing business under a different name. 

Suppose a book author writes under a known alias and if it’s a defamation case against the author, for example, you may wish to include the alias under which that person writes. But it’s usually only included if you don’t know a person’s legal name.  In the case of these defendants, the plaintiff knew their legal names because it had actually done business with them using their legal names. It signed a legally binding contract with them.

So what was the motivation to alter their names for the lawsuit?  Well, the allegations against them were that they were using aliases to disparage the company on the Internet. The company felt harassed so what better way to get back at them than to do the same, disparage them, and portray them as criminals to the eyes of the court and public. Every court-filed document contains the caption (cover) page showing all those aliases as if they were master criminals on the run.

The first big mistake the defendants made was in responding to the lawsuit without contesting the inappropriate names. But as someone told them even if they had done that, the company would simply have had to have changed the complaint and it would still go on. So be it. They still should have contested it on that basis because it was wrong, legally wrong. 

The second big mistake they made was in making a cross-complaint based on what they believed was abuse of process and libel per se for the plaintiff using all those fake names. The defendants believed they had a legal right to sue the company for disparagement. They were mistaken. They were hit with what is called an anti-SLAPP motion and in California, it’s based on California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 which perceived their cross-complaint as a SLAPP, a strategic lawsuit against public participation.  Many other states have similar statutes. Make sure you don’t fall prey to the dreaded anti-SLAPP motion if you decide to sue someone or some company. The use of the statute has become very prevalent.

The Code in California

Here’s how the statute reads in CCP § 425.16. “The Legislature finds and declares that there has been a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances.  The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the public interest to encourage continued participation in matters of public significance, and that this participation should not be chilled through abuse of the judicial process.”  It continues, ”A cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike, unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim.”

The law was enacted by the state Legislature almost twenty years ago and amendments have been made since that time to improve the law and provide stronger protection from meritless lawsuits to anyone who is SLAPPed in California. A SLAPP lawsuit, therefore, is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The law’s original intent was actually to protect average citizens from being harassed and sued by companies when they exercised their free speech and petition rights against those companies.

If you read up on the law, you will see some of the following statements: “The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. In some cases, repeated frivolous litigation against a defendant may raise the cost of directors and officers liability insurance for that party, interfering with an organization’s ability to operate. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.”  Within this context, the defendants became the “SLAPP plaintiff” because they were the ones who filed the cross and the home building company became the “SLAPP defendant”.

The defendants filed their cross-complaint because they believed 1) they had a right to sue and, 2) that the company was now disparaging them.  Knowing this and reading the previous paragraph, can you see how absolutely ludicrous it was for them to be hit with an anti-SLAPP motion?  Nothing applies; they weren’t trying to intimidate anyone or create mounting legal costs for the company.  They were trying to exercise their own right to “petition for the redress of grievances.”

But, the argument against them was that by suing the company, they were violating the company’s free speech rights to petition the courts (i.e. sue the defendants) and, in the process, use whatever fake names they dreamed up to sue them under. The court therefore ruled in the company’s favor and the defendants’ cross-complaint was instantly dismissed.

Since one of the clauses in that statute pertains to the payment of “mandatory” attorney fees for the loser in this scenario, the defendants were hit with over $10,000 in fees. Defendants are representing themselves because they can’t afford an attorney. If they can’t afford an attorney, they can’t afford to pay that ridiculous amount in fees. 

The moral of the story is, don’t think that you can just easily file a cross complaint. Complaints are subject to different responses and anything other than a straight answer could put you in hot water to pay attorneys fees and costs.  The anti-SLAPP motion is just one perfect example. Beware.

Article by Ginger Marin. To learn about her acting, visit Ginger Marin’s IMDB page.

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Little Stupid Civil Case: Part 1: How Far 1 Company Will Go to Destroy 2 Lives

img-gavel-evidence
A home building company constructed hundreds of homes on a large tract of land that bordered a senior citizen community. Some of the people closest to the construction complained that their lives were being disrupted; their physical health severely compromised by the toxic diesel fumes they were being exposed to for up to 12 hours a day; their homes damaged inside and out by earthquake-like vibrations, filth, debris, termites and rats; their vehicles damaged by over-spraying of stucco and paint; their mental health being comprised by all the stress and expense of having to cope with the circumstances.

The home builder ignored their concerns and just kept on “trucking”. Large construction cranes perched precariously over their tiny homes; one slip and they’d all be goners.

One man didn’t give up and complained louder than all the others. He got a bit of compensation for his trouble and was forced to sign an agreement to keep his mouth shut so the other people in the community who were also being harmed would never know. But before the man had signed that agreement he had told his story to a blogger.

Suddenly the man was no longer able to speak to that blogger again so the blogger became increasingly concerned that the victim of the home builder had become sick or died. The blogger took to the internet and told the story of the victim, his wife and the entire community and likened the home builder company to ‘bad Germans’.

Fast forward 6 months. The company sued the senior citizen victim and his wife, claiming that they were the perpetrators of the so-called online “disparagement” that breached the agreement, that they were using aliases (including the name of the blogger and some other totally fabricated names) to conduct a ‘campaign of terror’ against the company and that the company should be allowed to destroy their lives in return.  The defendants have no money so they’ve been forced to represent themselves in court.

The publicly traded company had hired a big whopper of a law firm with dozens of attorneys and here’s what has been happening ever since.

  • Time spent on case since lawsuit filed – 1 year, 1 month and counting.
  • Time left to trial – 6 months.
  • 125 documents filed so far and counting.
  • 15 court hearings so far, 10 more scheduled, not counting any new ex parté.
  • 2 defendants deposed for a loss of 22 hours of their time plus expenses.
  • Over $10,000 awarded to plaintiff in attorneys fees because defendants followed the law and filed a cross-complaint that got dismissed. The plaintiff had demanded $20,000.
  • Money spent to date – $75 000+ by plaintiff (an educated guess); several thousand dollars by poor defendants who live on fixed incomes.

In the course of what is called the “discovery” phase of a lawsuit where both  parties supposedly exchange information relevant to the case, the defendants were forced to answer very detailed questions about their past and present personal lives, including where they went to high school and college, if they got any awards, honors and degrees, where they lived as children, including every place they have ever lived and for how long, when and where they were born, who their parents are/were, if they have any other relatives, what their doctor’s name is, every unfortunate event in their lives, their careers including the names of projects they happen to be working on, everything about past military service, possible trouble with the IRS, other countries and states where they’ve ever had a driver’s license, and numerous other highly personal questions that have no bearing whatsoever on the case. The plaintiff, on the other hand, refused to answer  even the most basic relevant questions.

In such instances, the lawyers will always claim that you have no right to object to their ludicrous questions and that even if you do object, you still have to answer the questions. And the law actually supports that. It’s absurd.

Only after all those ridiculous questions were presumably exhausted did the attorney turn to anything remotely relevant to the case.

During the litigation, both defendants were forced to file motions for protective orders to try to halt the insanity of having their personal lives further exposed to the world via a public court process that allows a party to place everything into evidence, relevant or not. Once a document has been filed with the court, it can never be withdrawn. It’s there forever, for everyone to see and anyone who takes the time and pays the copying fees can get a hold of it.  So even if you don’t want something to be exposed to the world, you still have to state the nature of the privacy and defend your position in court documents, which means, essentially, that you have to tell the world about your personal horror, embarrassment, disease – if that’s what it is – so the judge can then decide if you’re entitled to the privacy you’re claiming.

And don’t think for one minute that “common sense” rules. Only the statutes and case law do. Statutes by themselves have no weight. You need case law, which are other decisions by other courts. And if case law supports having someone drawn and quartered over some issue, not even the same issue as yours, you can be sure that the opposition will exploit that law to have you publicly whipped into submission. Common sense does not rule. A statute may very clearly state the law on its face but unless there is case law that you can cite to support the statute, judges don’t seem to want to make an independent ruling. They just say they have to follow the law … and without case law to support your argument, you have none … and that means you’re back to square one and seriously out of luck.

The discovery process is a joke. In a civil case as I’ve described, it is in fact a deplorable joke. And the courts have placed laws on the books that allow this disgraceful corruption of justice to go on. You literally have to fight tooth and nail to protect yourself; you have to know the law and how to apply it. If you’re defending yourself as these defendants are doing, you have to become lawyers yourself. The unfortunate thing is that while the courts demand that self-represented parties conduct themselves as professional attorneys all of the time, they refuse to allow self-represented parties to reap the same benefits when it comes to attorneys’ fees and awards of sanctions. At best, you can claim that you spent 60-bucks filing a motion and should get that back if you win said motion. The fact that you were forced to spend 20-hours drafting that motion is irrelevant to the courts. But the attorneys always get paid.

The idea that self-represented parties take on the legal system by choice is false; they do it because they have to. Not many people can shell out $50,000 a pop or more when something untoward comes their way.

The defendants have pending motions for sanctions against the plaintiff and its attorneys for several code violations related to the service of multiple  illegal deposition subpoenas to third-party companies for their business records, evidence suppression, oppressive discovery, obstruction and gross unprofessional conduct due to myriad violations of the professional rules of conduct specified by the American Bar Association and other bodies.

One of the defendants was so angry over the repeated violations that he fired off letters to the California Bar Association, the company’s law firm and two other agencies.  But based on past experience and coming across a 2015 article by the Sacramento Bee newspaper stating that the Bar association is absolutely useless in dealing with complaints against attorneys, he said he has little hope they’ll reprimand the violating attorneys.

Here’s the potential outcome of this particular case at this time.

  • Lawsuit dismissed at motions for summary judgment in favor of defendants – one month before the trial date and after one year and seven months of their lives. They might be able to recoup a little money for expenses.
  • Lawsuit goes to trial and defendants win – after one year and eight months of their lives. Same deal on the expenses.
  • Lawsuit goes to trial and plaintiff wins on technicality since defendants have no lawyer, or for cause, or for who knows what reason – after one year and eight months of their lives; black marks against them on the books forever and they’re forced to pay all of the plaintiff’s attorneys fees.
  • Formal judgment against poor defendants to pay plaintiff and defendants are forced into bankruptcy so their lives can be destroyed for another 7 years.

Win or lose the case, defendants will still be forced to pay the $10,000 as of this writing in attorneys fees already ordered, not counting any additional sanctions/fees ordered since this article was written because in California (and presumably elsewhere), the courts have decided that you should be subjected to sanctions every time you file a motion and lose, every time you defend against a motion and lose, every time you do anything, and every time you don’t do something in this colossal no-win crapshoot. The whole system should be declared a mistrial. It certainly is a travesty.

So why are these two defendants being prosecuted and persecuted?  Because what the blogger wrote would conceivably be protected as free speech under both the U.S. and most state constitutions. The attorneys need scapegoats to get a judgment against them in order to skirt the free speech rights of a third party. Obviously, the defendants want to win the case so they can go back and sue for malicious prosecution … something that will probably take another year of their lives

I’ve said it before, the American Civil Liberties Union is nowhere to be seen when it comes to actual civil liberties. Our legal system has made us all slaves to stupidity, gamesmanship and corruption. The sad thing is that people’s lives are on the line … physically, emotionally and financially. There is no equal protection under the law, other than to be equally abused, harassed, criminalized and bankrupted into oblivion.

Article by Ginger Marin. To learn about her acting, visit Ginger Marin’s IMDB page.

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Lawyers Commit Suicide

by Ginger Marin

This morning, CNN ran a report about a plethora of attorney suicides.  They’re apparently #4 on the list of professionals who commit suicide the most.  Although the report highlighted a bunch of lawyers in Kentucky, it did state that, in general, stress was the cause because their profession deals with so much conflict.  The report forgot to mention lying and cheating (theirs).  Maybe they commit suicide because they can’t stand looking at themselves in the mirror anymore.

I’d like to say I feel sorry for them but I don’t.  I think more of them should bite the bullet.  Maybe the entire profession would go away and only people/companies that represent themselves would be allowed in court.    I also think judges should hop on that bandwagon, preferably starting with those Supreme Court bumblers, and of course Dagger Lady Judge, the highlight of my Big Bully Bank Case, may she R.I.P … well, maybe not so peacefully.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Law & Lawyers: What a Scam

“As more and more of our people devoted themselves to the law, the law had to become more complex to justify them all.” – This quote comes from an episode of the sci-fi TV Show “Farscape”  (on air in the year 2000) in which an alien described his planet’s perverted legal system.

Shit, even aliens and entertainment writers know that the legal profession is a perverted contrivance designed to efficiently aggravate people and situations and penalize those who can least afford to pay.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Big Bully Bank Case: Part 13: Complaint Against Judge

On April 2, 2013, I filed a complaint against dagger lady judge with the Commission on Judicial Performance.  Not that I expected anything to come of it, of course, but because it was something that I really felt needed to be done.  That judge was so prejudiced against self-represented parties that I simply had to say something.  In my complaint,  I also cited her refusal to order multiple sanctions against all the defaulting attorneys.

The Commission’s response came on May 18th saying that the judge can do whatever the fuck she pleases.

So why did I, as a self-represented party, have to jump through hoops to follow the court’s bullshit rules and the attorneys didn’t?  Because the whole system is stacked against us.  Judges and attorneys despise us.  Well, the feeling’s mutual.  It’s not the jury that’s rigged.  It’s the legal system.

Starting this past April, courts have been closing down and hours shortened all around the state over the latest “budget crisis”.    The courts claim they simply don’t have the money to operate.  That’s because the judges don’t collect fees from the super rich DEFAULTING ATTORNEYS OF THE BIG BULLY BANKS AND THEIR GOOSE STEPPING GOONS.  Insurance company law firms are earning a bundle from the big bully banks that have ruined our country and clogged the legal system with their fraudulent foreclosures.

The attorney for the two defendant big bully banks in my case, who was hired to mash me into the ground after the banks’ phase 1  attorneys couldn’t get rid of me, told the mediator judge to make sure that I knew that his services cost $90,000.  I think he was on the case for approximately six months.  His fees were over twice as much as the other insurance company attorneys for the banks’ goose stepping goons who were in it from the start.  They too insisted that the mediator judge spill the beans on their ludicrous fees so that I’d shiver in my boots and fold like a limp dick.

Bank whores, that’s what they all are, including dagger lady judge.  They have no self respect so they surely deserve no respect from the rest of us.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Big Bully Bank Case: Part 12: Final Observations

On March 22 we headed back to court for a final appearance before dagger lady judge to tell her that we’ve all done our parts  to conclude the case.  Except, not everyone did his/her part.  The slimy stooge of a realtor and her peacock-strutting, bombastic, blithering, brain dead bozo attorney absolutely refused to abide by the settlement terms.

I made sure the judge knew that he was the same jerk who flouted the rules of court by not even filing the mandatory settlement conference brief which was required five days before the hearing on January 25th.  But, just as predicted, dagger lady judge refused to order sanctions against him.  What the hell does it take for an attorney to get bitch-slapped by that bitch?  She just about laughed in my face when I brought up the subject of  his infractions.  All she wanted to do was to shove us out the door as quickly as possible.  The only reason the case is over is because another defendant’s attorney picked up the slack to resolve the issue.  Dagger lady wasn’t impressed.

MSC Briefs

The attorney for the property management company filed his  brief two days before the Jan. 25th hearing and the big bully banks, who were still defendants at the time it was due, simply couldn’t be bothered to follow the law (again).  They sent theirs in the day before the hearing.   Not one of them got so much as a harsh word either from the mediation judge or dagger lady.  It’s as if the infractions never happened.  Meanwhile, dagger lady previously gave me her song and dance routine about her needing to “follow the law” when she so cavalierly ruled against me in all those summary judgment motions.  I heard her warn another pro per to “follow the law” as that poor woman headed toward trial.  This judge’s disdain of self-represented parties is so transparent.  Such a pathetic hypocrite.

Mr. Blockhead, the bozo attorney is also the one who allowed his realtor-client to use his Bar number and pass herself off as an attorney when she filed a TRO against my co-plaintiff because he sent her some mail.   The realtor also refused to accept certified mail court documents from us when she was, for a short time, acting on her own behalf, and legally obligated to receive them.

Dealing with these dynamic duo-duds was like being trapped in a clown car.  “Dumb and Dumber” on steroids.  At least I knew where the other defendants and their attorneys stood, like Al Pacino in “Scarface”, whipping out their “little friend” to shoot me in the back, over and over again.  I kept getting back up, like “The Terminator” … or “Rocky”.  But alas, now I shall walk not so silently into the sunset … after a few more paragraphs.

Depo Take 2

Right before our Mandatory Settlement Conference on January 25, 2013, the attorney for the property management company I’ve affectionately termed “PMS”, ordered a deposition for a consumer reporter who had tried to help us after the attempted break-in/threats by the local trash-out company his clients hired.  Not that the reporter had any relevant information to provide, but simply because he was another person they could abuse with their bullshit bullying tactics.   And, of course, when one attorney calls a depo, all the other lawyers flock to it like the vultures they are to take stabs at the poor deponent.

“Rules Are made to be Broken”
I’m guessing the first person who came up with that line was an attorney.  Violating the settlement, no MSC Briefs, Discovery abuses, no responses to Meet & and Confer letters through aggressive stupidity and inability to understand the English language.  Imagine an attorney who claims not to understand the term “legal” and a realtor who can’t comprehend the word “foreclosed”.

There was so much wrong about the circumstances in our case and so much harm caused to me, but it didn’t mean anything in the long run.  The courts don’t give a rat’s ass about the truth.  I wonder who came up with the phrase “rat’s ass”.  I mean I wouldn’t want anything to do with a “rat’s ass” whether truth was involved or not.  Speaking of a rat’s ass, I would be inclined to allow dagger lady judge to enjoy the company of one in a locked cage for 20-to-life.

I’m having a supply of voodoo dolls made up for each of the defendants and their attorneys.  I’ve “independently contracted” with a Haitian group in Miami to represent my interests and send out the voodoo dolls.  That way I won’t be held liable if some horrible accident befalls any of them.  I hear the Haitians are starting a Voodoo Doll of the Month Club, in fact.

The trash out slugs still work for “PMS” and “PMS” still works for the banks; as far as I know the elephant noise making realtor is still in the mix too and all of them seem to be supremely happy over their existence together no matter how many lawsuits come their way.  The attorneys right now are doing a jig knowing they’ve put one over another pro per.

A Farewell to Arms

There will always be a special place in my heart for all the defendants and their henchmen.  “Goodnight and Good Luck” and good fucking riddance.  They’ll certainly have no trouble finding other poor innocent folk to foreclose, rob, attack, then fuck over and make “A Fist Full of Dollars” in the process.  That’s the way big bully banks and their idiot mortgage serving companies operate in America.

Remember: coming soon to a bookstore near you: “Home Sweet Home-Foreclosed, A Satirical Look at Bastard Bankers, Foreclosure Forging Fiends and the Goose Stepping Goons That Support Them”.  In the meantime, see you at the cinema!

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Big Bully Bank Case: Part 11: Mandatory Settlement Conferences

Once the court sets a trial date for your case you can be sure you’ll have to run an obstacle course to get there.

The defendants don’t want you to go to trial and neither do the courts.  That’s why, after the summary judgments, they have the MANDATORY Settlement Conference.  Anyone left standing after summary judgment is now hauled before a mediator judge then blindfolded and shot.  Just kidding.

Our Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC) was scheduled the same day (Jan. 25, 2013) as the summary judgment hearing for “PMS”, the property management company.  “PMS” had won. So, it was a little hard going into the MSC after really being shot … down.

All that remained to negotiate were just one issue of trespass against the trash out company and our entire case against the realtor, oh, and whether or not we were going to appeal all the summary judgment/adjudication rulings.  I’m pretty certain at that point I had every intention of appealing but since it was a mandatory conference and I had little choice but to attend, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

No So Great Expectations
I didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised when  we were escorted into the judge’s chambers and allowed to spill our guts about what had happened and what we’ve been up against with the “vicious”, “abusive”, “nasty”, “stupid”, “arrogant”, “rude”, “blockheaded” defendants and their attorneys.  The judge listened.  Hey, I like this guy!  Finally, someone was listening to us.  Of course, he was being paid to listen to the “vicious”, “abusive”, “nasty”, “stupid”, “arrogant”, “rude”, “blockheaded” defendants and their attorneys, also.

I liked that this judge was wearing a suit and not that stupid black robe.  He came across as a regular guy, someone I could relate to and who could relate to me, unlike that devil-robed lady trial court judge with the tats of a bloody dagger that snaked around her neck and the letters “f” and “u” under each eye.

The only parties not present at the MSC were the banks, the entities that started the whole mess, but were clever enough to have kept a distance from the legal fray by simply hiring goose-stepping goons to do their dirty work.  When I gazed out the window from the judge’s chambers I thought I saw the banks’ attorney waving at me from what looked like the official “Bank Mobile” but it was just a taco vendor in his elaborate food truck.

We made our case to the mediator judge, even showed him some evidence like this warning sign we had displayed in our window at the time the trash out company showed up.

Warning Sign Trash-Out Co. Too Blind to See
Warning Sign Trash-Out Co. Too Blind to See

I forgot to mention earlier that another one of the trash-out company’s versions of the incident was that they thought the home was vacant which, according to them, would have given them carte blanche to break in.

After we finished imparting our tales of woe, we all broke for lunch, after which the judge began meeting separately with the defendants and their attorneys.  I was really pissed that they got to sit in the same chairs in his nice office that we had.  He should have taken them down to the dungeon.  I’m sure the court has one.  From what I heard from the bailiff, it’s called the “cafeteria”.

The judge finally got through the lot of them and when he met with us again he told us that we were his favorites.  Just kidding.   It’s just that after having been so abused by the defendants, their attorneys and then the trial court judge, it was nice to have someone on our side, at least that’s how I imagined it.

By the end of the very long day the judge had managed to hammer out some kind of agreement palatable on some level between all the parties only to have the lunatic realtor and her blockhead attorney throw a monkey wrench into it.  How much more damage was the banks’ bimbo bitch going to inflict upon us?

The judge announced we had a deal albeit with a “wrinkle” that definitely needed ironing out.  I wondered if perhaps we couldn’t just borrow the giant dumpster from the trash-out company to roll over the wrinkle and bury her body under the pine cones.

We were ordered back the following week to continue hashing out a settlement.  You know what they say about settlements? … ‘the only good settlement is one in which no one is happy’.  Bullshit, again.  Big bully banks and their big goose stepping goons get exactly what they want and they’re happy as pigs in a blanket.



Feb. 1, 2013, Day 2 MSC  

So here we were again waiting in the courtroom for the judge to call us in.  The courtroom temperature was very chilly to match the atmosphere of the parties forced to attend the mediation.  Every party “allegedly” wants their disputes to end.  “Allegedly”, I love that word.  It holds myriad meanings, such as “maybe”, “supposedly … or … “not a chance in hell”.

This time our case was not the only one being negotiated by the judge; he was juggling at least four others, running back and forth among the parties like a whirling dervish.  Good exercise for him.  By the looks on some of those attorneys faces, I figured they were in the “not a chance in hell” category.

While we waited the bailiff regaled us court-sitters with dining suggestions and cell phone charging options and helpful products.  I wanted to regale them with excerpts from my legal blog.

The realtor’s second attorney made a big issue of not being allowed to bring her cell phone charger through courthouse security.  The bailiff cited security reasons.  They have a point.  You could use the cord to strangle your opponent.  By the same token, laptops are heavy enough to whack someone effectively in the head.  Still nothing works better than papering someone to death.  It’s slow and methodical, just the way those guys like it.

Just the week before, Ms. Slime’s main squeeze attorney told a joke loud enough for everyone in the court to hear, outside the presence of the mediator judge, though.  It had to do with a drowning kid and a molester priest.  It would have been something I’d expect to hear on “Real Time With Bill Maher”, not in a courtroom.   Chuckles all around the realtor’s camp.

It once again came time to break for lunch.  The judge was obviously keeping our jolly bunch for last.  Bore people to death – torture by mediation.  I knew what he was doing.

Then, after the break, the judge ensconced each party in my case in different rooms; we plaintiffs had to stay seated in the shitty courtroom while the others were in his chambers or in the jury room.  I’ve never seen a jury room.  I felt deprived.  The judge had strapped on his roller skates and was breezing from room to room, looking like he was having way too much fun, while the rest of us, no doubt, were suffering upset stomachs from the cafeteria food.

We were all playing a version of “Let’s Make a Deal” and one was indeed struck.  

The judge popped on his devil robe to make it official.  I hated that part. It’s when you have to agree to the deal .. which always seems to be a slightly different version than what you thought it was going to be.

A second realtor wrinkle reared its ugly head.  She actually sat there in front of the mediator judge and lied repeatedly and we plaintiffs seemed to be the only ones who noticed.   The banks’ bimbo bitch couldn’t tell the truth if she were being waterboarded by “24”‘s Jack Bauer himself.

We were all given until March 22, 2013 to seal the deal.  That’s when we have to appear in court to tell dagger lady that we’ll be out of her hair for good.

Why am I worried?

Amazing!
Just one day after posting the above, I get a letter from the realtor’s blockheaded attorney saying “there will be no settlement”.  They’re pathological liars.    I just can’t figure out if it’s the dog wagging the tail or the other way around.   Does the realtor approve of her attorney’s belligerent nonsensical tactics?   What I do know is that they should all be institutionalized, preferably at “American Horror Story: Asylum”.  Maybe “Bloody Face” can set them straight.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Big Bully Bank Case: Part 10: The Other Defendants’ MSJs

About a week after the banks sent their motions for summary judgment/adjudication, the attorneys for the local trash out company sent their motions and within a week after that came the one from the property management company.  Actually there were two MSJs from “PMS”.  They sent separate motions against each Plaintiff.  This is what’s referred to as “MSJ gang-banging” in the legal trade.

Paper Cuts

When the defendants file their papers, you get a chance to oppose them.  This consists of no less than 8 or 9 separate documents encompassing at least a hundred pages, depending upon the complexity of your case, exhibits and all.  From legal commentary I’ve read about the procedure, the judge doesn’t even bother to read everything you’re forced to prepare.  And from experience, I’m positive that is indeed true.  The courts say about summary judgments that you don’t have to prove your whole case.  Bullshit.  Yes you do.  You’ll never make it to trial if you don’t.

In their motion papers, the trash-out slugs argued that they have high standards of operating procedure so they couldn’t possibly have done the things I accused them of doing: trespassing, refusing to leave when ordered to do so, menacing, making threats, trying to break into my home and invading my privacy, refusing to identify themselves to me or the sheriff.  They claimed that the property management company “PMS” ordered them to do everything (except for the menacing and attempted break-in actions; that they did all on their own).    But, just in case they do break in, “PMS” tells its contractors how to proceed – “re-secure” the property and run away.  The “PMS” work order states in no uncertain terms that contractors must take unauthorized photos of homes known to be occupied.  Presumably that is what prompted the trash out slugs to plow through me in their rush to get to my back door and take more photos.  Obviously missing a photo opportunity is not their standard operating procedure.  Maybe in future when they see a woman screaming from her front porch at them to STOP, HALT, CEASE & DESIST, they’ll take her seriously.

The trash out guys claim they just came to the property, said “hi” and left.  Evidence I had showed that the V.P. for the property management company said they told her they couldn’t get near the house because they saw some woman screaming at them.  Another version has the president of the trash out company telling “PMS” that his guys saw an open window and tried to lift it further but were caught in the act by a screaming woman.

Sounds like one of those “He said, She said cases, right?   Well, during the hearing on January 24th for the trash out company’s MSJ, I suggested to the judge that we let a jury of reasonable people sort out who was telling the truth and who wasn’t.  But that was not something she was willing to entertain.  We little people apparently just don’t deserve a trial.

The outcome was that the judge let stand only one issue, trespass, and only within the narrowed margin of them not leaving from the time I told them to get the fuck out of there, which was done as soon as I appeared on my porch and BEFORE  they threatened and menaced me, plowed through me, took photos, moved to the back of the house, took more photos, tried to break in, moved to the side of the house, took even more photos …

When an appeals court overturns a trial court, it will say that “the trial court erred in granting the motion.”  I don’t have to be so polite.  The judge didn’t just err, she turned logic into the same manure pile I cited in earlier posts.

The Big IF
IF the cause of action for trespass was allowed to stand, even within that narrow margin, then everything the trash out slugs did from that point forward was a legitimate and actionable claim, deserving of a jury trial.  That means the invasion of privacy, the negligence and the emotional distress were all valid based on the allowed claim for trespass.  But, not with this judge.  I imagine she doesn’t do well with those connect-the-dots games either.  What if she had been the little alien guy in “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial”?  Why she would never have discovered those Reese’s Pieces or Elliot and she would have died a horrible death, abandoned on a strange planet.

“PMS”: Talk About Pain, Gas, Bloating and Aggravation!

The very next day, on January 25, 2013, we had the MSJ hearings for the two motions by the property management company, one against each Plaintiff.  Going in, we knew this was going to be one big fucking farce.  We slowly made our way through the halls of (in)justice to “Stalag 17″, I mean Department 17 …

The attorney for “PMS” stood up and told the judge that he needed to file two separate motions against us because the circumstances were “so different” (no, they weren’t, it was just to make more work for us) and the judge nodded  in sympathy saying “I agree” with this pathetic sad-sack look on her face as if to say “oh, you poor guy, it must have been just awful for you.”  I nearly puked.

In his motion papers, the “PMS” attorney called me ignorant not once but three times.  Did that judge really need any more convincing?  Obviously she already thought I was simply too ignorant to have drafted anything in my own name to effectively prosecute my case because she didn’t read a thing I wrote, otherwise she would have “liberally construed” everything I said and I’d be home free … or at least on my way to trial.  But no.  This judge decided that the property management company also had no responsibility for anything even though they clearly tell their contractors to invade people’s privacy, trespass and instruct them on how to proceed when breaking into a home that’s later discovered to be occupied.  No responsibility; no negligent hire; and lying and concealment are all A-OKAY because they owe no duty to you, no duty NOT to be negligent.   I take it all back, the trash out company guys aren’t slugs at all; we’re the slugs.  Innocent people minding our own businesses can be menaced and threatened because the courts have ruled that someone can shit all over us everyday of the week.  When Rodney Dangerfield said he gets no respect, he was speaking for all of us without even knowing it.

Liability in General & Legal Citations
Here are a few things I quoted in my opposition papers to the various defendants’ MSJs.

Barron’s Law Dictionary defines ejectment as “a legal action brought by one claiming a right to possess real property against another who possesses the premises adversely or who is a holdover tenant who remains beyond that termination of a lease but who is not merely a trespasser.”  UTTERLY USELESS. The judge ruled that the second a property is foreclosed everyone still occupying it is automatically a trespasser.  Fuck Barron’s Law Dictionary, I say.

California Civil Code 1714(a) establishes the fundamental principle of negligence liability, providing: “Every one is responsible, not only for the result of his willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his want of ordinary skill in the management of his property or person, …”   FORGET IT – doesn’t mean a thing.

Far West Financial Corp. v. D & S Co. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 796, 812, 251 Cal.Rptr. 202, 760 P.2d 399 [“there are many instances in which a defendant who is vicariously liable for another’s acts may also bear some direct responsibility for an accident, either on the basis of its own action—for example, the negligent hiring of an agent—or of its own inaction—for example, the failure to provide adequate supervision of the agent’s work”.  DON’T BOTHER with this one either.  The judge sure didn’t.

“An invasion of privacy occurs where one intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude, seclusion, private affairs or concerns of another in a manner that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.” (Schulman v. Group W Productions, Inc. (1998) 18 Cal.4th 200, 231), also  (Marich v. MGM/UA Telecommunications, Inc. (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 415, 421.)  NOPE!  The judge ruled that menacing, threats, attempted break-in and unauthorized photo-taking don’t count.

“The person entitled to stop a wrongful and unauthorized entry is not necessarily the fee simple owner or the owner’s agent, but the person in possession of the property – who could be the fee owner, a tenant or even a person in wrongful possession. [Allen v. McMillion (1978) 82 CA3d 211]  The occupant of the property, who might be other than the fee owner, can recover money damages for his injuries resulting from a trespass. Conversely, damage to the fee owner’s property caused by a person who is in rightful possession, such as a tenant, is not a trespass, it is waste.” [Smith v. Cap Concrete (1982) 133 CA3d 769]  HELL NO!

I even tried these to show that laws DO EXIST in California to protect people despite foreclosure. Gross v. Superior Court, 171 Cal. App. 3d 265, 217 Cal. Rptr. 284 (Ct. App. 1985)  Court of Appeal held that: that statute which allows eviction by unlawful detainer proceeding where property has been sold through foreclosure did not preempt rent stabilization ordinance which limited the grounds for eviction; that purchaser of property at foreclosure proceeding, as successor to the landlord, was subject to rent stabilization ordinance;  that purchaser failed to demonstrate that it had grounds under rent stabilization ordinance to evict the existing tenants.  A tenant under a subordinated lease who remains in possession after the foreclosure sale does so as a holdover tenant, that is, a tenant at sufferance. Aviel v. Ng, 161 Cal. App. 4th 809, 74 Cal. Rptr. 3d 200 (2008). NO FUCKING DICE!

Tell me again how the courts are required to “liberally construe” my evidence and I’ll tell you where to shove it.

MSJ: WTF
The trash out guys hide behind the property management company (“PMS”) and “PMS” hides behind its contractors.  Why it’s a virtual daisy chain.  And who’s leading this conga line fuck fest?  The big bully banks. OOMPAH!

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

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