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View Diary: A day late with the rent? Eviction and prison may be in your future in Arkansas (80 comments)

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  •  The article seems to me to be incomplete (3+ / 0-)
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    erush1345, annominous, VClib

    I can't imagine why this couple was faced with a warrant for their arrest unless (1) they failed to show up at the Court hearing; or (2) they were found guilty of a misdemeanor for failure to vacate and neither paid the fines nor vacated.  

    The statute clearly does not allow for arrest simply because the landlord gave them a 10 day notice and they didn't leave.  The statute clearly does not allow a "warrant for arrest" to be issued prior to a court date.  

    If they had not yet appeared before a Court as the statute requires when the warrant for arrest was issued (unless they had missed the Court date), then this diary is focused on absolutely the wrong thing.  The diary should be focused on whatever judge issued that warrant in violation of the statute and the huge lawsuit the couple has for that clear impropriety.

    I suspect that what happened to prompt the "warrant for arrest" is either (1) they missed the Court date; or (2) they appeared at the Court date, they were found guilty of the misdemeanor, and neither paid the fines nor vacated.  

    •  Because you only read the opening graph. (0+ / 0-)

      The rest of the article goes on to illustrate judges that didn't even allow a defense. They want to know: Did you pay the rent? If not, why aren't you out. Period.

      Sometimes analyzing too deeply, as you are wont to do, you miss the details.

      I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

      by second gen on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 07:43:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Look at the statute. You are allowed a defense. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erush1345, wilderness voice, VClib

        If you want to mount a defense, the final section allows that.  You can plead not guilty and contest the eviction, but -- here's the difference with some other states -- while you contest the eviction, you have to pay your rent to the registry of the Court.  Again, the section provides this:  

        (c) (1) Any tenant charged with refusal to vacate upon notice who enters a plea of not guilty to the charge of refusal to vacate upon notice and who continues to inhabit the premises after notice to vacate pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be required to deposit into the registry of the court a sum equal to the amount of rent due on the premises. The rental payments shall continue to be paid into the registry of the court during the pendency of the proceedings in accordance with the rental agreement between the landlord and the tenant, whether the agreement is written or oral.

        (2) (A) If the tenant is found not guilty of refusal to vacate upon notice, the rental payments shall be returned to the tenant.

        (B) If the tenant is found guilty of refusal to vacate upon notice, the rental payment paid into the registry of the court shall be paid over to the landlord by the court clerk.

        What this does not allow you to do is contest the eviction and remain in the property without continuing to pay rent.  If you win, you get your money back.  If you lose, the landlord gets rent for the time you remained in the property.  
        •  Look at the facts. They weren't ALLOWED to (1+ / 0-)
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          defend themselves. Fuck the statute.

          I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

          by second gen on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 07:56:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's why I said, either (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345, wilderness voice, VClib

            1.  The story in that article is incomplete, or

            2.  If the warrant for their arrest was issued without (1) a Court finding them guilty of the misdemeanor of failure to vacate and (2) their failure to vacate after the Court issued that order, these people have a huge lawsuit against someone for the improper issuance of the warrant for their arrest.  

            Because nobody's talking about the huge lawsuit they have for the abuse and misuse of the statute (option 2), I tend to think it's option 1.  

            •  To be fair (4+ / 0-)

              It's not a story in an article, it's a Human Rights Watch report, which is actually quite thorough, but perhaps a bit one sided...i.e. it's basically a collection of anecdotal information collected by HRW in interviews with aggrieved tenants, and personal observations of some judges.  There's nothing wrong with that, I've worked with HRW before and that's what they do, but I wouldn't say it's exactly the whole picture.

              The problem is, people tend to get worked up about these things without having all the facts.  For example, there was a diary yesterday about the acquittal of some guy who shot a prostitute because she didn't give him sex and kept his 150.00.  One its face, it sounds outrageous (and it is in any event), but if you just read the diary and the accompanying article, you'd think the john shot the woman point blank range in cold blood and killed her on the spot. A few seconds of Google research revealed that in fact the the assailant shot at the car (he claims he was aiming for the tires) the woman was getting away in with her pimp. This is a fact not a single person mentioned in a diary with over 300 comments. And in fact the woman died months later, apparently because a feeding tube (there because of her injury, to be sure) dislodged. This doesn't excuse this low life's actions, of course, and he still should have gone inside for the crime.  But it does perhaps illuminate a bit more why jury reached the verdict it did, and maybe that the prosecution over charged.  

              In any event, the point is, facts matter, even if they make a story less sensational.

              Black Holes Suck.

              by Pi Li on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:43:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  thanks for that detail, but (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pi Li, second gen

                shooting at the tires and hit her instead?  I don't believe anyone could be that bad a shot.  

                •  Well, that's what he claimed (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wilderness voice, VClib

                  The car was in fact speeding away, and he did shoot at it (the woman apparently hit by a ricochet bullet). His claim is that he was shooting not at the woman but at the tires in order to prevent them getting away with his "stolen money." In any event, it's plausible, and perhaps if the jury believed that version of events, they might not have been willing to convict for murder. I'm not saying I agree with what the jury decided, just that there's more to the case than what was in the diary. What I don't know is if the jury was given instructions on any lesser chargers...or why the prosecution didn't charge agg assault or some lesser crime. But that's not as much fun as talking about how backwards Texas is.

                  In any event, I don't want to derail this diary with that discussion, the point is, the devil is in the details. All Coffeetalk is trying to do is provide some perspective and more information than is contained in the diary. Having all the facts may not add kindle to our outrage, but it does at least make us better informed.

                  Black Holes Suck.

                  by Pi Li on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 09:27:01 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I believe they could be (0+ / 0-)

                  what  I don't believe is that we make it so easy for millions of people who are just that bad a shot to have guns.

                •  wilderness voice - really? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Pi Li

                  First, handguns are accurate only for very short distances unless they are being fired by an expert who spends lots of time at the range.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 01:05:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Apparently it was an assault rifle (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    But your point is well taken...the car was speeding away, and I imagine in his agitated state this genius wasn't exactly the best shot.

                    Black Holes Suck.

                    by Pi Li on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 01:19:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  let's put it this way (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Are you prepared to believe the uncorroborated testimony of a  defendant on trial for murder?  

                    As I mentioned above, not the first time I have heard a freak "ricochet" did it.

                    Never mind that he had already handed over the money voluntarily, so this wasn't theft at all, but fraud, if she had agreed to have sex.

                    •  Prostitution is illegal in TX; no 'fraud'. (1+ / 0-)
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                      wilderness voice

                      Agreed, I don't believe Ezekiel Gilbert's story, that he wanted to shoot out the tires so he could call the police. (Wtf? Just write down their license plate #, there's absolutely no need shoot an assault rifle at them.)

                      Btw, one cannot be legally held to a contract (verbal or written) that requires illegal behavior. Assuming prostitution is illegal in Texas, she cannot be required to 'deliver'.

                      Her ad on CL presumably said "escort". If he wants sex, that's his risk that as a consensual adult she may say "No", even after taking his money.

                      If she says "no" and he makes a physical effort or threat to have sex with her, that's attempted rape.

                      If he shoots her as she's leaving, and she dies from the wound, that's murder (even if it took 7 painful months with her paralyzed and on a respirator, fighting for her life).

      •  this particular (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen

        commenter has never found an ordinary person, or a consumer friendly law, acceptable nor anything that doesn't favor the have over the have nots to be unacceptable.

        I agree with you, the arrests, pretrial detentions that one district allows, all proceed an adjudication of actually owing a debt.  There is a civil process to determine that the debt is due, but the landlords skip that.  So yes, people get a letter from the landlord, dispute or not, they have to leave if they do't want to risk arrest.

        The commenter will also ignore the huge disparity in knowledge, access to legal advice and the money to afford it that exists in places like Arkansas between landlords and tenants.  Significant numbers of tenants are probably barely literate,( if similar to the demographic of this area, function at or below 8th grade level), and simply won't be able to read the law and figure out what to do.

        •  Two points. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MGross, viral, VClib

          This is not exactly correct:

          So yes, people get a letter from the landlord, dispute or not, they have to leave if they don't want to risk arrest.
          The statute does not allow them to be arrested simply based on the landlord's letter.  They have to go to Court and can choose, (1) to plead guilty in which case they pay a $25 a day fine for the days they remained past the 10 days and then must evict; or (2) to plead not guilty and contest the eviction, where they put the rent money in the registry of the Court.  A lot of states allow landlords to issue such a notice.  What this law says is that, if you don't contest that you haven't paid rent, remaining after the notice can be a misdemeanor, like trespassing.
          Significant numbers of tenants are probably barely literate,( if similar to the demographic of this area, function at or below 8th grade level), and simply won't be able to read the law and figure out what to do.
          While I disagree with the notion expressed by others that landlords are the same as "big banks, big corporations, and big oil" (many are small business  owners as I expressed elsewhere), I agree that it is important that tenants understand their rights.  That is why my law firm has represented tenants who have been treated contrary to the law through the New Orleans pro bono project and other such institutions.  That happens -- landlords sometimes overstep their legal limits.  And tenants should be able to get legal advice and assistance when that happens.  

          I completely agree that tenants must be able to be treated in accordance with the law, and we have devoted resources to making sure that happens.  But I disagree that landlords who want to make sure they get rent for the time that someone lives in their property, or who want to evict someone who is not paying rent, are evil or reprehensible, as some comments here seem to indicate.  I think both sides should have rights -- the tenant, to be able to occupy the property in accordance with the lease; and the landlord, to be able to expeditiously evict someone who does not pay rent for whatever reason.  

          •  you keep arguing at the surface (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            second gen

            of this issue, ignoring the huge underlying differences in ability, access, and money of the parties.  It is the very kind of policy that acknowledges most consurmer contracts are contracts of adhesion.  No one consumer has the power to negotiate or contest unfair provisions or unfair enforcement.

            You further act as if there aren't additional issues, great, New Orleans, and you did some pro bono work once.  Well you have to do pro bono every single day to keep up with the abuses of landlords and the ones that overstep their rights.  The occasional tenant that is a professional non-payer is not the basis for this law or procedure.  A significant number of tenants are poor, can barely pay rent, accept substandard repairs and conditions because they simply have no choice.   Those are the ones that choose between food, rent and some medicine for their kids, or fixing their car so they can get to work.  Work they would lose if they have pretrial detention.  They have to pay money, but does anyone tell them that?  Do you really believe most tenants can get the education they need in rural Arkansas.  How many of these counties have legal aid offices.  A blurb from a legal services website in Arkansas:

            As Arkansas’ poverty population grows, so does the need for representation of their interests. About 16% of Arkansas citizens live at or below the poverty level, compared to 12.4% nationwide. In the Delta area, fully 25% of the population lives in poverty. Meanwhile, federal funding for legal-services programs has continued to decrease, while the State of Arkansas provides no appropriation for civil legal services. Combined with the sizable, growing population of needy residents, this lack of resources creates a perfect storm of injustice. Private attorneys can help address these problems by volunteering.
            But the real kicker,  its a criminal charge, most legal aid service can't or don't involve themselves in criminal matters.  So people can't get free aid there.  There is a public defender system, but they aren't appointed until arraignment, so by the time you get a lawyer, you won't know you should have plead money into court.   Laws really need to be fair.
            •  That is changing the subject (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pi Li, VClib

              I never said that tenants should not be informed about their rights -- in fact, I believe they should.  

              I never said that tenants should not have legal representation.  Obviously, since we've done it pro bono, I believe that they should.  

              What I did take issue with is the overstatement of what the law says -- there's no "prison" or jail time for "being unable to pay money."  There must be a Court finding that you failed to vacate after (1) you lost your right to remain in the property; and (2) you were told by the owner of the property to leave.  Then, and only then, the penalty is a fine -- no jail time.  

              Also, what the Supreme Court has said is that you are entitled to a lawyer if the possibility of jail time arises.   That's another reason I don't think we are given all of the facts in that article.  For the standard proceeding under that statute, where there is only the possibility (after a Court proceeding) of a fine and an order to immediately vacate, no representation is required, as in any other misdemeanor proceeding where the penalty is not jail time.

              If this couple had a warrant for their arrest out there, and was threatened with jail time, it can't be simply because they were given the landlord notice.  That is just not allowed under the statute.  Also, it cannot happen even if you go to Court and are found guilty.  There, the penalty is a fine of $25 a day for every day you were there after the 10 days, and you have to leave right away.  The only way I can see a "warrant for arrest"  happen under the statute is if (1) they missed the Court date (courts will issue a bench warrant for that sometimes); or (2) there has already been a court finding of guilt as to the misdemeanor, and they are being arrested for something after that, like staying in the property even after they had their court proceeding.  

              •  you can't possibly be that naive (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                second gen, Calamity Jean

                in Arkansas, small rural area, that because the US constitution says no one can be imprisoned for debt, that some circuit judge doesn't order people to be held in jail until their court date and they stay in jail.  

                I bet you don't believe there is a Georgia town that fixes the sewers in the white section but not the black section of town either.

    •  Read the entire report (0+ / 0-)

      I only quoted sections of it to stay within "fair use" guidelines.

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