Saturday, March 24, 2018

I can finally talk about this: Part 3 - $50,000 bail

At this point I've had a whole series of animal control tickets and regulatory agency visits; racked up about $1,000 in fines (and paid them) and I've been scratching my head for most of a year trying to figure out what's going on.   The regulatory folks are pretty easy to deal with:  none of them ended up doing anything other than constantly inspecting my property - honestly, I got used to having random groups of people show up at my door demanding to see this or that.  It had became routine after 4 years of this.  Even the regulator agencies were getting bored.  "Hi Bruce - planting again? "  "Yep, mostly alfalfa and some orchard grass"  "OK, just making sure.  Have a nice day!"  "You too, Bob!".  
Everything in the orange box is covered by my security system now

I've been all over my fences and gates and I'm starting to get skeptical that it's a fencing problem; it's pretty clear that I need more information but it's not obvious what that is, or how I'll get it.  

I interviewed 3 criminal defense attorneys, and picked one that I think is good; he's a judge pro-tem (sits in for judges when they need trial coverage) is the named partner at his firm, and has excellent reviews on avvo - but honestly, picking an attorney is a roll of the dice in itself.   I'm not going with the public defender here; the stakes are pretty high, and I've never regretted hiring a good lawyer.  

So I consult with my attorney, and we start working the case, and the prosecutor sends over a plea bargain; if I plead guilty they'll only recommend I do a week or so in jail, pay a thousand dollar fine, and probation for 2 years - and if I break that probation by having an animal out, why, i go to jail for a year.  

Since I'm not having much luck figuring out the animal stuff so far the prospect of being able to guarantee not having a single animal out for 2 years looks impossible.  I have to solve this before
I can make any commitment in that area, and so we push the trial date back and hire an investigator to start interviewing the only witness in the case - Dale Shelton - and the defense attorney is handling it.  

A month later I get a call from my attorney:  The prosecutor is making a motion regarding the conditions of my release - apparently they've received MORE complaints about animals out, and the prosecutor is asking the court to set a $50,000 bail and to throw me in jail if I can't make it.  

In the court hearing the judge hearing the matter states "if the problem is that he can't keep animals on his property how is throwing him in jail supposed to make it more likely animals will be kept on his property?", and I thought that was a good point.  The prosecutor isn't having any of that, presses hard, and eventually the judge issues a warning that I should abide by the laws regarding herding animals on the road, and dismisses it.  No bail is set.   

Pretty scary hearing.  

But I still have the basic problem with the animals, and I still can't figure it out.  Finally in August of 2017 I go to costco and buy a home security system for $299 - it comes with 4 cameras and records the video for a month or so, so it's easy to go back to review what goes on.  I buy another 4 cameras (total of 8) and mount them on my house so that I can see the whole area where everything is going on.  

If animals are going to get out I'll be able to see how, and why, and that may solve this mystery.  

The day I put the cameras in things seem to quiet down.  Ms. Shelton drives by quickly; she doesn't loiter at her mailbox; she's not patrolling the edge of my property in her car anymore.  I didn't hide the cameras; I wanted them to act as a deterrent as much as to show me what was going on.  A pig doesn't care if there's a camera.  A person does.  

And BAM!  Just like that all of the animal stuff stops.  No more complaints.  

September, Oct, and through the first part of November 2017 everything is quiet.  I'm wondering
why I didn't think of this before.  Pretty happy with my purchase.  

On November 10th I'm idly googling my own name and I run across a legal notice in the paper - with my name on it.  What?  I note the court, the date and time and case number, and the next morning I go to the court to find that Dale has filed her 2nd anti-harrassment order against me.  

The hearing is in 5 days.  Another round of discussions with my attorney, and we appear in court for the hearing.  Judge hears the case, Dale testifies for an hour or so, and the judge dismisses her motion for the order.  The judge states from the bench:  "Ms. Shelton was confused when she filed this order"

Dale was trying to get me to take my cameras down via this order.  She complained that I was using the cameras to surveil her, and asked the court to order me to take them down.  The cameras were mounted to my house and fence, and showed only my fences and gates.  You can't even see dales house from mine.   

Why does Dale care so much about my cameras?  If there are violations of law,the cameras will show it all.  She has taken hundreds of photos of my house, myself, my livestock and my property - but apparently she is the only one who is allowed to do so.   It's very odd.  Suspicious.  

But this attempted order makes me look carefully at what the cameras had captured in the time
they'd been up.  

Next:  Why are you there, Ms. Shelton?  And what are you doing with that hay?

And yes, there will be pictures and video in the next entry.  



grasspunk said...

This has been brewing for you for years.

I know a similar situation where someone sold half a farm and then has been pestering the newcomers for years. Finally ended when the seller passed away. Is this a repeating pattern?

I'm tweeting this out, too good not to share.

EBrown said...

Holy crap. You sure have had a run-around with neighbors.

Nick in RI said...

I can hardly wait.

I've lived in urban, suburban and rural areas. I've noticed that in rural areas it's not uncommon for people to feel that deeds and such don't "really" control land ownership. My neighbor to the east grew up there but now lives two states away. When I met him for the first time, on my land, he introduced himself to me as "the owner." This was after I'd been there ten years.

Sounds to me that while she took your money and signed your deed, she still really considers herself the owner of your land.

Bill Gauch said...

How many parts is this story? I need to know how much popcorn to make!

Bruce King said...

Grasspunk; this has been going on for years. At this point I'd prefer to be done with it,but I can't ignore criminal charges, and even though i've tried for the last two years to just ignore her she doesn't like that either. So the best defense is a good offense - and you'll see that at the end of this story.

Ebrown; I will give her credit. If you want to cause problems for a livestock farmer she could write a book about it.

Nick: She thinks (and has stated under oath) that she has exclusive right to use the county road that fronts my house and to exclude anyone she wishes from using it. She literally believes that she owns the road, and in addition has the right/privilege of controlling my farm operations as well, down to the level of what,where and how I feed my animals, what crops I can plant in my fields and even the type of fertilizer I choose to use.

Bill: I think I can cover it in 3 more segments; i've posted the next one, so two more after that. Whats funny about this is that I've been contacted by several people that say that they've had similar run-ins with Ms.Shelton. I can't say that the stories are true,but there are definitely stories out there. Ms. Shelton is well known, apparently.

grasspunk said...

Bruce I amazed by your patience!

I'm also glad you can afford legal help.