Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Part 4: My special neighbor Dale Shelton / Dale Strawder

I was in court this morning with my special neighbor.  You can see some background on the dispute in three previous entries; part 1, part 2 and part 3.  

Not a happy camper today
I went to court this morning to respond to the anti-harassment order filed by my neighbor against me.  The basic dispute that she and I are having is about a property line and fences, but she felt that an anti-harassment order would help her in some way, so she filled out the forms in early February and I got served with the papers a few weeks later.  We had a court date on March 4th, but I chose to continue it until today, March 18th, so that I'd have more time to get background documents.  

On February 4th, Ms Shelton said in open court that she'd been advised by her attorney to wait until I filed suit against her in the hopes of recouping fees and costs by doing so.  It's my opinion that this action, and the other stuff she's doing were done in hopes of provoking me to sue her.   Sorry Dale.  I'd rather not sue neighbors.  Try talking to me instead.    

But then she filed this motion against me, and it's not something that I could ignore.  I take restraining orders very seriously.   So I iron my shirt and shine my shoes and into court I go.  

Ms. Shelton hired an attorney, Mr. Duskin, who's actually pretty good.  He had a bad case, but he gave it the good old college try.   He produced an declaration from Ms. Sheltons ex husband that admitted that when he built the fence in 2009 we're arguing about, he had no idea where the property line was.  He claimed in that declaration that the fence was destroyed in a flood, but neglected to say what year that happened, and so on.  
Unfortunately for Ms. Shelton the fence in question shows up on aerial photos from the county for decades in its exact location... and what does a fence have to do with an harassment order?    The judge pro tem hearing this case said as much, too.  Nice declaration, but a waste of money for this particular matter.

Mr. Duskin produced a declaration from a county employee that talked about the right of way, and the use of a right of way as a driveway, and some other stuff related to property lines.  But the judge again pointed out that this didn't have anything to do with the interactions between Ms. Shelton and I, and weren't relevant.  But there's another few hundred dollars of Ms. Sheltons money down the tubes.  

He put Ms. Shelton up on the stand, and she related that my dogs got out, 5 months ago there was a pig out, one day I was chasing cattle that got out, and that I removed a couple of no-trespassing signs and tossed them at the ground.  

On the dog matter, I introduced the statement she made to animal control about the dogs, basically stating that she drove out, she honked her horn, and the dogs ran away.  And I noted that 5 months later in her latest statement, that I was suddenly there, present.  Ms. Shelton testified that she never saw me, or heard me when the dogs were there.  Personally, I don't think that this happened, but even if it did, this was not my doing something to harass her.  

On the pig matter I tried to introduce the video of Ms. Shelton  refusing to return me my pig, and wasnt' able to get the courts equipment to work, which was too bad.  I did introduce the sheriffs report stating that there was an animal theft issue and the animal control incident record also stating that it was a theft issue.   This was interaction between Ms. Shelton and I, and actually was relevant to the anti-harassment order.  

On the cows, I established that the cows never went inside her fence around her property, but remained only on the county right-of-way.  

On the sign issue, she admitted that I had been asking her to remove the signs for at least 6 months on the stand, and that she had removed the sign herself because she believed that it was posted on my property.  
While she may  have been annoyed by how I removed the sign, she finally admitted in court that she had been placing it on my property.  

Her attorney questioned her, then we got to arguments, and finally after 40 minutes of pretty funny testimony about pigs and cows and fences, the judge ruled:  

"After testimony and notice, the court finds the burden of proof has not been met.  It is therefore ordered that the case is dismissed."

I think that the best part of this whole episode is that it cost Ms. Shelton quite a bit of money, in my opinion probably around $2,000.00, and time to try to get this to stick.   I did spend some time on it, and about $80, mostly for recording fees for photographs and copies of various documents, but I think that her attorneys bill to her for attempting this order is what she richly deserves.  

And yes, Dale, if you sue me I'm going to put you in my blog.  Have a nice day!


Joanne said...

Well done. Congrats!

JAG in the Box said...

Yay for the rule of law!

The Foster Family said...

I am not sure how I got to your blog but i am glad I did. That story is awesome and I love the look on her face!
Well done. Justice Served.

sheila said...

Hope Dale leaves you alone now, but I suspect she just can't. Sad when people choose to go through life that miserable. Hopefully, she will leave you alone at least through spring so you can get your planting done undisturbed.

Bruce King said...

I'm hoping that she calms down a bit. I've talked to her attorney and told her - through her attorney - that if she will agree that my survey is correct we'll move the fence in question to the surveyed line and be done with this particular fight.
The argument was that she believes my survey at the north end of the line, but doesn't at the south end of the same line.

I told her that either you agree that the survey is correct, and we go with that, both ends, or we agree that the fence that's been there for decades is the line, both ends. I can go either way, but I'm not going to go with a mix of the two that's entirely for her benefit.

When she admitted she'd been posting signs on my property in court, she was agreeing that my survey was correct. That's all I needed.