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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

A fox terrier puppy stopped to relieve himself on some grass Sunday evening in Chicago. A few minutes later, the dog's owner lay dead from a gunshot wound.

Charles J. Clements, 69, has been arrested in the shooting death of 23-year-old Joshua Funches. Their confrontation started when Clements, a regular winner of neighborhood beautification awards, noticed the dog urinating on his lawn.

According to news reports, Clements instructed Funches to keep the dog off his lawn, and Funches sassed the former Marine and retired truck driver. That sparked an argument that ended in gunfire. The story shines an unfortunate spotlight on property-related issues, a frequent topic here at Legal Schnauzer.

Here is how the Chicago Tribune describes the incident:

Joshua Funches, a 23-year-old father of two, was walking his fox terrier Gucci in the 500 block of Landau Road on Sunday night when the dog lifted its leg and urinated on Clements' lawn, said Funches' mother Patricia, 53.

The two men began arguing, and at some point, Clements, a retired truck driver, pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Funches, a Crete-Monee High School graduate who drove a bus, said Will County Assistant State's Attorney Sondra Denmark.

Witnesses said Funches then said to Clements, "Next time you pull out a pistol, why don't you use it?" Denmark said. At that point, witnesses said they saw orange and white light and heard a loud noise. They saw Funches fall to the ground.

"It was all over a little wooden plaque," said an emotional Patricia Funches, referring to the beautification award. "It was a senseless death."

A report in the Chicago Sun-Times indicates Clements did not have a gun when he initially spoke to Funches, but went back in his house to get the weapon after the two had argued. The report says the shooting occurred several doors down from where Clements lived:

Will County prosecutors made no mention of the dog urinating in the yard when they outlined their case at a bond hearing Tuesday, saying only that Funches was walking the dog and crossed the lawn, which resulted in words exchanged with Clements and escalated into a shouting match and some shoving before the older man pulled a gun and shot him.

Funches' mother said she was told by neighbors that after the initial arguments Clements went back into his house to get the gun and returned to shoot her son, who by then was several houses down the block on his way home, which would undermine any self-defense claim.

Patricia Williams, 16, pointed out to me the weed-strewn yard where Funches was actually shot.

You wonder if Clements would have stopped himself if it had meant spilling blood in his own yard.

The story raises a number of legal and ethical questions, not to mention high emotions. One Chicago columnist said it reflects two conflicting American values: the lawn as icon and our love of dogs.

I think it's more complicated than that--and I have a lot of personal experience in this area. The legal headaches I've reported on this blog started when a man with an extensive criminal record, Mike McGarity, moved in next door to us and immediately began trampling on our property rights.

McGarity built a fence on our yard that took up about 400 square feet of our property. When we noticed the possible encroachment, we had our yard resurveyed to prove it. Then we had a lawyer send McGarity a letter, stating the fence would have to be moved and we expected to be reimbursed for our expenses.

After removing the fence and failing to reimburse us, McGarity apparently decided to retaliate. He, family members, and guests began to repeatedly trespass on our property. Our house was vandalized repeatedly--with eggs, paintballs, objects thrown through our windows, you name it.

When I told McGarity verbally on multiple occasions to stay off our yard, he threatened to sue me for "harassment." My wife and I consulted with multiple lawyers before I swore out a warrant against McGarity for criminal trespass, third degree. He was acquitted at trial, even though the transcript shows he confessed to the crime as charged, and that allowed him--with the help of lawyer William E. Swatek--to sue me for malicious prosecution.

The whole ordeal has cost us tens of thousands of dollars, and my decision to write about the corrupt handling of the lawsuit in Shelby County Circuit Court almost certainly contributed to the loss of my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

As you can see, property issues can get complicated, expensive, even dangerous. But here is a key thought to keep in mind: One of the concepts that makes our country America is the notion of private-property rights. Some people are quite relaxed about this right; others are highly sensitive about it. But there is no question that, under the law, any owner has an almost unfettered right to manage what takes place on his property. Renters have similar rights.

So what's our take on the Chicago story? First, I think it's about way more than lawns vs. dogs. According to news reports, several people who lived nearby said Clements was an excellent neighbor, and they appreciated the fact that he took care of his property. They also said his concern usually was about children who came on his yard, not pets.

That's one thing Clements and I have in common. I've never been concerned about animals coming on our property. I regularly scoop up dog poop off our front yard, and we have a terrier that lives behind us who makes regular journeys into our yard to dig holes. I go out after a while and fill them up with dirt, but I've never complained to the owner. The presence of animals on our property just does not bother us--and my wife and I are especially fond of terriers.

After all, we've never had an animal sass us. We've never had an animal lie to us--or about us. We've never had an animal's parent call to threaten us. We've never had an animal sue us.

People are my concern because I've learned that people can lie, cheat, steal, threaten, and vandalize. Well-behaved children, who have parents that I know and trust, used to always be welcome on our yard. Before McGarity moved in, the neighbors on the other side of us asked if their two boys could come on our yard to retrieve balls, etc. We said yes, and that worked fine for awhile. But when it became a problem, and we raised concerns with the parents, they indicated they weren't going to take the matter seriously. So we rescinded the invitation to come on our yard. We have a feeling the mother bad-mouthed us to numerous neighbors, and that made us even more determined that kids no longer were going to romp on our yard. That was our mindset when McGarity moved in.

Charles Clements had every right to be vigilant about what took place on his property. But he and Funches both made mistakes on Sunday evening, mistakes that had fatal consequences.

To many people, a dog peeing on a lawn is a minor thing--and it certainly would be a minor thing to me. But under the law, Clements was within his rights to tell Funches that he would prefer the dog do his business elsewhere.

Allowing a dog to pee on a lawn almost certainly is not a crime, unless it would violate a municipal ordinance in some places. But if Clements had plenty of time and money to waste, he could have filed a lawsuit against Funches for trespass. That probably would have resulted in an injunction, hard feelings, and use of public resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

If Clements simply could not let the issue pass, he took the wiser path by simply telling Funches that he did not want the dog peeing on his yard. We don't know the kind of tone that Clements used to start the conversation. My guess is that he was fairly rough about it.

Funches' big mistake came when he apparently didn't simply say, "Sorry about that," and keep walking. When a property owner makes a lawful request--even if it's in a rough tone of voice--the appropriate response is to acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and say you'll try not to let it happen again. If you don't want to say all of that, just try "Sorry," and it should work. Even if you think the property owner is being a horse's ass, "sorry" is the best response.

Clements' big mistake came when he introduced a gun into the equation. There is no indication that Funches threatened him. So why go get a gun?

All of this reminds us of Edna Jester, the 88-year-old Cincinnati woman who wound up being arrested after she kept footballs that kids kept throwing onto her yard--despite her repeated requests that they quit doing it.

We tend to be sympathetic to the Edna Jesters and Charles Clements of the world. They have every right to be vigilant about what takes place on their property. But Charles Clements clearly went way too far. (I have a feeling Mike McGarity would have been dead a long time ago if he had moved in next door to Charles Clements.)

The Jester case, thankfully, ended in fairly benign fashion after area law enforcement had butchered the situation horribly--actually arresting a senior citizen for picking up objects off her yard.

The Clements case, sadly, ended in death. Joshua Funches should not have sassed a property owner, making a lawful request--no matter how silly it might have seemed. Clements should not have introduced a gun into the equation, no matter how disrespectful he thought Funches was being.

Now, multiple lives are ruined because of those mistakes.

Originally posted to RogerShuler on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:05 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Street width? (5+ / 0-)

      Around here, streets are actually somewhere between 25' and 33 feet from the center line (total width 50' to 66', with some streets being as wide as 100' and occasionaly 150').  The pavement is usually covering 10' to 12' from the center line, and sometimes there is a sidewalk that is surfaced some distance from there.  But, the property owner along the street does not own to the sidewalk edge or the pavement edge.  We are in the dark about where the dog actually was walking and where it actually peed.  Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that the dog was on a leash (usually 6' or less) and that Mr. Funches was leading it while walking either on the edge of the pavement or on the sidewalk (well within the public's space).

      Animals urinating within the public right of way was certainly part of the pattern of acceptable use when these streets were established, and I would be very surprised to learn that that permitted use had somehow been extinquished.  On that basis, Clements was almost surely not within his rights in his initial confrontation with Funches, and his subsequent use of deadly force after Funches had left the area was a dispicable and cowardly act.  There is no excuse.  Shame on him, and his jail time should be long.

      •  A clarification (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim

        Rereading my comment, I should have said more clearly that the public land or the public's right of way is far wider than the paved portion or even the paved portion plus the sidewalks.  A property owner may mow and tend that public space, but he or she does not own it.  Therefore, he or she is not entitled to limit permitted acts by members of the public and their animals, who are traveling within that public area.  While there are ordinances requiring dog owners to pick up dog feces, I know of no limits being placed on dogs urinating by municipal ordinance or like rules and nothing in the reports on this incident suggests that anything like that existed there.  

        •  maybe this varies (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rb608

          In the urban settings I’m familiar with the property line typically extends to the back of the curb at the street. The sidewalk is provided for by an easement, as required by the municipality. Ergo, the space from the back of curb to the inside edge of the sidewalk is within the easement, but it still belongs to the property owner.

          Hell if I know what that means as far as where your dog may or may not take a leak. Of course, dogs being dogs they will take one when and where it suits them.

          Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

          by Joe Bob on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:29:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's my experience as well (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob

            The property owner owns everything to the street.  (The property description for my house actually gives me to the centerline of the road.)  Certain easements for public use may be mandated, but everything, even the sidewalk, belongs to the property owner.  

            You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

            by rb608 on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:53:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In some cases the town has an easement (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rb608

              In some cases the road is established by easement, again of a width substantially wider than the improvements.  A guy walking his dog within that easement would absolutely be exercising the rights.  

          •  No (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rb608

            The property for the street is a fixed width, usually 66 feet around here, or 33 feet from the center line.  Some older roads are 50 feet, and a few state roads are quite a bit wider.  The width of the pavement, and other improvements like curbs and sidewalks are unrelated to the width of the property the town, county, state, etc. actually owns.  It would be unusual for a sidewalk to be outside that strip, and usually they are within it enough to allow workers space to maintain and replace it without getting special permission.  It's easy to check, most municipalities have property tax maps that show how wide those municipal boundaries are.  That's why ditches can be dug, trees can be cut, etc.  

          •  If there is a driveway the public ROW extends up (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rb608

            to the first expansion joint in from the street.  Another way to judge the property line in urban settings is to note the position of utility poles and signage which are placed just within the edge of the public ROW.

            Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

            by Miggles on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:01:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Plus he should not be able to enjoy his lawn (0+ / 0-)

        ever again.  I've had requests from owners when they've been concerned about my dogs marking particular plants, but it's always been a positive encounter with an agreement that I'd steer my dogs away from there.  Never had a situation unable to be resolved peacefully.

        so far.

  •  He can now beautify Marion. (7+ / 0-)

    "We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope."

    by mydailydrunk on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:12:31 AM PDT

  •  I thought an armed society is a polite society! (32+ / 0-)

    Could it be that the NRA has been lying about that?

    Nothing is more important than beating the teabaggers. Nothing.

    by phenry on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:13:09 AM PDT

  •  I added the "RKBA" tag (7+ / 0-)

    Hope that's ok. Be good to hear from them that support the right of that homeowner to defend his grass-blades against such an outrage. If he hadn't had that gun handy, or had he not been well-trained in its use, a tragedy might have occurred.

    ...the rest of you are sitting on your lazy-boy chair waiting for a check from Uncle Sam. November is just around the corner! - colliesue, 3/29/10

    by Hookah on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:15:53 AM PDT

  •  it was in chicago southland burbs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superribbie

    ...must be Obamas fault

    http://firedoglake.com/

    No Way, No How, No McCain

    by nerdngeek on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:16:16 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry, but... (43+ / 0-)

    ...personally, not a single issue raised by this incident has even a thousandth of a thousandth of a weight of the fact that one man murdered another. That's all this story is to me: a murder.

  •  Wait, so gun control (since this took place in a (7+ / 0-)

    city with some of the most onerous gun control laws in the country) really doesn't work?

    Makes sense.

    MF and RKBA Member. This bear keeps and bears arms. -9.00, -4.05

    by KVoimakas on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:22:41 AM PDT

  •  Argument of false equivalency (11+ / 0-)

    RS: I appreciate the context as to why you might have some sympathy for Clements, but in no way does a minor quality of life issue like this warrant any violent retaliation.

    Charles Clements had every right to be vigilant about what took place on his property. But he and Funches both made mistakes on Sunday evening, mistakes that had fatal consequences.

    RS. once again you are using DK as a venue for a personal vendetta which I suppose allows you to write a b.s. diary justifying homicide because a dog peed on some guys lawn. Delete this POS immediately.

    •  exactly (7+ / 0-)

      if I lived by this  murders house, I think I would go pee on his fucking lawn.  Fucking murderer.

      (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

      by dark daze on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:32:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Overseas, kestrel9000

      I get this part:

      personal vendetta

      but not this part:

      justifying homicide

      Please explain yourself.

      "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

      by Shaviv on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:33:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Diarist sympathizes w/ the shooter (5+ / 0-)

        The personal vendetta relates to RS's litany of diaries which seem to be motivated solely by his personal animus to UAB. Birmingham area judges and law enforcement, and his subsequent dismissal from the university.

        By using an argument of false equivalency, RS tacitly approves of the homocide of Funches. Being a dick — even to a douche like Clements — for failing to be a responsible pet owner shouldn't get you killed.

        •  I have to say that it doesn't sound too much (6+ / 0-)

          like the diarist sympathizes with the shooter. Yes, the diarist has allegedly had experiences of people messing up his property; yes, the diarist has this series of diaries that may or may not have any merit about how he lost his job and got dicked with by all and sundry; no, it doesn't look to me like the diarist sympathizes with the shooter.

          Inappropriate diary? Maybe.

          Calling the diarist sympathetic to murder? Rather more inappropriate than the diary could be.

          "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

          by Shaviv on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:43:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You are correct when you say... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KVoimakas

          "Being a dick — even to a douche like Clements — for failing to be a responsible pet owner shouldn't get you killed."

          But it is a sad fact today, and throughout history, that being a rude, thoughtless, ass can get you killed.  Even being thoughful and polite can get you killed, sometimes.  And every non-mentally-damaged adult knows this.

          The world doesn't come bubble-wrapped.

    •  Dirk: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, fizziks, KVoimakas

      You might try reading the diary again. Nowhere does it remotely say that this homicide was justified.

      It says that Charles Clements had every right to be vigilant about what went on with his property, and I sympathize with that.

      But I clearly state that he went way too far and never should have introduced a gun into an equation.

      Don't know how much more clear it could be.

      •  Not stated but implied (0+ / 0-)

        Ultimately you said Clements went too far, but you provided context that you sympathized w/ him and then you used an argument of false equivalency. So Roger, you waited more than 30 paragraphs (counting block quotes) before the why did he get a gun comment, so your problem only seems to be that Clements went and got the gun and then tracked down Funches rather than shooting him on his lawn in the first place.

        If Clements had assaulted Funches w/ a baseball bat or a shovel would that have been alright too?

        •  Dirk: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          webranding, fizziks, oldpunk

          Are you having reading problems today? I said I sympathize with anyone who seeks to manage what takes place on their property. That is their right under the law.

          I said Clements should not have introduced a gun into the situation . . . period.

          Your statement about Clements shooting Funches on his lawn, rather than tracking them down . . . well, hard to know how to respond to something that nutty. Your imagination seems to be on overdrive.

          •  You Made A Daily Kos Mistake (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rockhound, KVoimakas

            I could see myself writing a Diary about how I got screwed by a health insurance company. To the tune of $47,000. I like to think about finding the guy that ran that company, getting him in a room, and going all Pulp Fiction on him with a blow torch and some pliers. Never in a million years would I do that. Never!

            But we're kind of a non-violent community, so even suggesting something as a total fantasy or a correlation does not go over well here. You are seeing that here IMHO.

            "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

            by webranding on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:09:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it is more like that anything that departs (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KVoimakas

              from orthodoxy does not go over well here.

              Merely entertaining the thought that uncontrolled illegal immigration might not be the best thing for the country in the long term, or that not every single individual that has sees a moral grey area in abortion is necessarily a raving misogynist, or, as in this case, hinting that there may be some level of anger that is justifiable over someone disrespecting your property*, well, that's all unacceptable heresy, to be dealt with harshly.

              *And no, I don't mean that murder or physical violence

              •  I've suggested at least... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Colorado is the Shiznit, agoner

                ...two of those things, and I rarely get the "holy crap, you're not a real Democrat!" thing. (I get that way more when I defend Obama, and that's clearly not exactly unorthodoxed around here).

                Annoyance over this diary has nothing to do with suggesting people have a right to defend their property rights, and everything to do with thinking a shocking murder raises that point in a constructive way.

            •  Webranding . . . (0+ / 0-)

              I think you make a good point. Maybe these kinds of issues are "brain stoppers" here.

              One reason I choose to cross post here is that I think, in general, the Kos community is smart and quite capable of understanding a nuanced diary.

              But a lot of folks seem to shut down on any diary that involves guns. I had a similar experience when I wrote about the Amy Bishop shooting at UAH, which I only covered because it's in my home state and I used to work in the same University of Alabama system.

              In that case, I felt my personal experience gave me some insight on the broader issues connected to a terrible event. The same thing is in place here.

              I certainly don't mind people disagreeing or flat out rejecting whatever I might contribute. But I agree with you that quite a few folks seem incapable of reading such diaries with a discerning mind. They immediately seem to put words in the diarist's mouth that aren't there.

              My guess is that I'm hardly alone in experiencing this. Fortunately, the vast majority of my diaries don't have anything to do with guns--so this kind of response comes up infrequently.

              The irony is that I'm one of the most anti-gun people on the planet. Have never owned one and don't want to own one.

              I see this as a story mainly about property rights. I see the Amy Bishop story mainly about abuse and possible corruption in the workplace. The gun stuff came after the other issues had started.

  •  I Am Curious About How Somebody Could Just (5+ / 0-)

    build a fence that came onto your property. I live in downstate Illinois. Pretty rural area. If I wanted to build a huge fence I'd have to go to the city for approval. Heck my next door neighbor a few years ago wanted to turn his car port into a garage. It required hearings. Permits. All kinds of stuff.

    I told him it was his property and as long as he didn't come onto my land he could do anything he wanted. And if he needed me to come say that to the City Council or write a letter in support, just ask.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:32:26 AM PDT

    •  yep (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rb608, webranding, KVoimakas

      same here and we have pretty lax property laws.

      (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

      by dark daze on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:34:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Threw In The "Rural" Thing Cause (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb608, KVoimakas

        generally speaking we don't like other folks, much less the government telling us what we can or can't do with our property. But there are in fact rules. I would assume (maye wrongly) a burb in Chicago would have a heck of a lot more of them.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:37:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Good question . . . (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rb608, webranding, ColoTim, KVoimakas

      We live in an unincorporated area, so there is no city to go to.

      The basic rule, as I understand it, is that you don't build a fence until you have your yard surveyed, so you know exactly where the boundary lines go. Our neighbor had just moved in when he put the fence up, so a survey already should have been done as part of the house sale.

      He apparently didn't have a survey done--or it's possible he had one done and ignored it, intentionally tried to steal a portion of our yard, just told the fence people, "put it there," and hoped we wouldn't notice.

      Hard for rational people to understand how this happens. But our neighbor has eight criminal convictions (at least) in his background, so we might not be dealing with a rational person.

      •  I Am So Confused By This Diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Colorado is the Shiznit

        I really am. I get why you are mad. I really do. But in the grand scheme of things is it really that darn important? My gut is you are more unhappy you have a felon living next to you. The fence is just a reason to express that outrage.

        And as for the dog pissing in the yard. I am not going to touch that with a ten foot pole. Who freaking cares. I mean really. Give me a break.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:47:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  not really that hard... (0+ / 0-)

        Hard for rational people to understand how this happens. But our neighbor has eight criminal convictions (at least) in his background, so we might not be dealing with a rational person.

        Perhaps he made a mistake, or hoped you wouldn't notice... Annoying, yes.. But, he did move the fence when informed of the problem. It isn't clear to me why this by itself would be a big deal...

        As for the criminal convictions.. It is almost as if you wish that they had refused to sell to him as a result of the convictions. Clearly, they had no such obligation!

        Once a criminal has paid his debt to society, he has the right to purchase property where he chooses (barring a covenant that blocks such a purchase, but as far as I can tell no such covenant exists here). He has every right to live where he wants. You of course have every right to make sure he follows relevant laws but no right to expect that a criminal won't move in next door or that your former neighbor will take steps to protect you from a criminal moving in next door. He deserves a chance to live a law abiding life on the property of his choosing.

        •  scotths . . . (0+ / 0-)

          Of course, he has every right to live there.

          I only raise the criminal history as a way to explain why I think he has been difficult to deal with.

          Him moving the fence wasn't a big deal. But when he got pissed about it and started to trespass and vandalize, etc., it became a pretty big deal.

          We faced retaliation because we told him he had to move his fence. Does that sound fair to you?

          •  clearly he had no right to retaliate. (0+ / 0-)

            Him moving the fence wasn't a big deal. But when he got pissed about it and started to trespass and vandalize, etc., it became a pretty big deal.

            We faced retaliation because we told him he had to move his fence. Does that sound fair to you?

            Assuming he was behind this he deserves criminal and civil penalties for the problems he was causing.

            Mostly I was objecting to the idea in the blog that the seller and others involved in the sale might be liable for selling to a criminal. As tempting as it might sound, that would open the door to many many problems both for sellers who would now have to evaluate each potential buyer carefully and decide on an appropriate threshold beyond which they are not likely to be sued and those who have anything questionable in their past might find themselves unable to pursue opportunities in life as a result.

            •  Scotths: (0+ / 0-)

              I haven't researched it thoroughly, but the law probably does not allow for the kind of liability I was referencing. That was me more or less venting a bit.

              I will say this: From what I've learned about the transaction that led to us having a criminal neighbor, I don't think the house was for sale on the open market.

              It was not listed in our MLS (multiple listing service), it was not listed in local newspapers as for sale by owner. I've seen no sign that it was advertised at all. That's a curious way to sell a house.

              It's a long story, and the link you probably read tries to explain it, but it appears someone hand-picked this guy to be our neighbor--and it was done because of some deal involving the football coach at a "Christian" school.

              I certainly agree that there is no liability when a house truly is on the open market? But what about a situation like the one I describe? My guess is that the law still does not allow for liability. But it sure leaves my wife and I feeling like we've been left with the dirty end of the stick.

              And it's not just the fact that this guy has a record. He was convicted of one crime of violence, and he has assaulted me. So our personal safety is a concern. It's more than just, "We don't like this guy." He's proven that he's a genuine threat.

              My wife and I neither one like guns, but we've thought many times about getting one since this guy moved in--and we still might get one. I have no idea what he's capable of, and the courts have made it clear they aren't going to protect us.

              •  hope you find a way to resolve this.... (0+ / 0-)

                It's a long story, and the link you probably read tries to explain it, but it appears someone hand-picked this guy to be our neighbor--and it was done because of some deal involving the football coach at a "Christian" school.

                I'm still inclined to think that it doesn't matter how he found the buyer. Whether it was through word of mouth, an open market or any other method I don't see how that could make him liable for the consequences of the sale to the neighborhood. Clearly the individual was willing to give him a good price. If you were selling a home and someone was willing to give you an unusually good price before you even put the house on the market, might you accept and avoid all the hassle associated with listing the house? Would you do a criminal background check prior to selling a house in the interest of protecting you neighbors?

                It isn't that I don't sympathize with the difficulties you've faced and are facing regarding this I just don't think those who sold or arraigned the sale of the house are liable.

    •  Property rights aren't important? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robobagpiper

      Tell that to my neighbor who's had a natural gas company take four acres off his property, without compensation, for a well. (In Texas, mineral rights supersede property rights.)

      Tell that to me. This well is just over my property line, about 300 feet from my house. The noise and the stench of the diesel generator fumes went on day and night for two weeks.

      They've removed the rig now, but they'll be back in a week to fracture the shale. God only knows what that will be like.

      •  Not just Texas where mineral rights are supreme (0+ / 0-)

        Most places you can have your surface taken by the mineral rights owner and you have really little in the way of rights.  There's usually some restrictions, like a paltry distance they can build close to your house, but it's almost never what the homeowner would judge sufficient and you're supposed to have already accepted those results when you bought your land without the mineral rights (otherwise your property would have been much more expensive).  

        I'm going to investigate who has the subsurface rights to my new house in Denver even though I don't expect there's any way I'm going to lose land to someone deciding to put a mine on my land.  I just don't like the idea that they might.

    •  I have a fence company (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, buddabelly

      we find fences built on other properties all the time. Must have worked on ten properties after litigation.

      Get a survey.

      "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

      by ban nock on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:39:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heck, even a survey won't always help (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rockhound

        The survey of my property doesn't show any easement at all to the property behind mine, but it's clear from both a semi-improved road and the fact that their property would be otherwise landlocked that there is one.  I put up a fence along the easement line, but set about three feet away from the edge of the gravel.

        Neighbor came to me, very polite, and said that his easement was 20 feet wide (the gravel is only about 10 feet across) and I'd only left about 15 feet, and he was concerned that his big motorhome wouldn't make the curve.  Would I mind, he asked, if he hired a grading company to cut into the hillside on the other side of the easement, to give him a wider path without having to move my fence?

        No, I said, I don't mind.  That fixed it fine, but it was quite alarming to me that I might end up in expensive litigation over an unknowable encroachment.

        "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." -Thomas Paine

        by sierrak9s on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:55:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good Lawyers are cheap (0+ / 0-)

          and I'm a poor person. Some lawyers specialize in real estate and property lines, I'd get a refferal to one, find out what the scoop is, and if there is no easment, tell your neigbor that you have no probelem with him using it but they have to sign over any rights to use it in perpetuity.

          Sell him an easment if there isn't one, or give it to him in exchage for some other land. I paid dearly for a 15 foot easment.

          "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

          by ban nock on Thu May 13, 2010 at 08:43:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was in a public place and I overheard (11+ / 0-)

    a 30-ish white man say (paraphrase, because this is from memory):

    "Everyone should get one free murder.  That way, if someone waits too long when the light changes to green, or if they insult your wife, or if they knock down your mailbox, you can shoot the son-of-a-bitch and it is OK.  That would make people think, and they would be less likely to be assholes."

    (I distinctly remember the green light part, because I thought it was so outrageous.)

    There is too much free-floating anger in this country.

    To say that my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:36:36 AM PDT

  •  what a waste (11+ / 0-)

    I hope that old bastard rots in jail for the rest of his miserable life.  Yeah sure: he's got the right to be pissed at a dog taking a leak, but he ain't got no right to kill a man over it.

    To those who somehow twist this into "OMG guns are bad": please grow up.  The diarist made some pretty strong points about balancing our rights with what we generally accept as okay, and what can go wrong when the 2 collide, with hardly a mention of the use of a firearm.  

    Clements' big mistake came when he introduced a gun into the equation. There is no indication that Funches threatened him. So why go get a gun?
    ...
    Clements should not have introduced a gun into the equation, no matter how disrespectful he thought Funches was being.

    The gun is not the problem.  The gun is not the murderer.  Charles J. Clements is.  Here's hoping he dies in a jail cell, alone and forgotten.

    Hoping for a firearm tax credit, and Changing my ammo frequently :)

    by 1911s on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:40:19 AM PDT

  •  This diary really angers me. (6+ / 0-)

    I deeply resent you using this tragic murder to promote your own case. I would not want you, or Edna and Clements (to whom you and your wife are sympathetic), as my neighbor. I bet you are a real asshole.

    There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. - Bill Moyers

    by StepLeftStepForward on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:41:02 AM PDT

  •  This is the strangest diary from you (17+ / 0-)

    I have ever seen. I get that you're strict about your own property and stuff, but do you even realize that you're making excuses for this guy?!

    if someone dangles keys in front of my face I am fascinated by them. Thats what this website should be. -- rexymeteorite

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:43:43 AM PDT

    •  here here. I've canceled my own comment against (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Colorado is the Shiznit

      this diary as it was just too flame worthy.

      I expected more after your great Alabama justice (or lack thereof) work.

      Republicans: They hate us for our Freedom.

      by mikeconwell on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:47:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, I mean the issue of property rights is an (8+ / 0-)

      interesting one, but this as a point of departure?

      Weird.

      Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

      by Robobagpiper on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:47:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Srsly. (5+ / 0-)

        Just ... wow.

        if someone dangles keys in front of my face I am fascinated by them. Thats what this website should be. -- rexymeteorite

        by Colorado is the Shiznit on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:48:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This Is The Question I Have (8+ / 0-)

          If I was that dog's owner and it pissed on his yard and he got all mad and yelled at me, I am the kind of guy that would make sure my dog pissed on his yard every time we walked by.

          But if the man would have walked up to me, introduced himself, and asked that I not allow that to happen, well I would have totally made sure it didn't happen again.

          I mean it isn't like the dog dropped a deuce on his front door step. It pissed in his yard.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

          by webranding on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:52:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  why do you think that my yard (0+ / 0-)

            is rightfully your dog's toilet?

            You are the one that decided to take on the responsibility of having a dog in an urban setting, not me.

            •  So dog owners are supposed to carry a little jar (0+ / 0-)

              with them in addition to the plastic bag we already carry?  It freakin nature! If you have a lawn, then get used to the fact that birds poop on your car, and squirrels shit in your yard. At least we clean up the poop our dogs leave.

              A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

              by marleycat on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:27:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  nope, that's not nature (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kentucky Kid, KVoimakas

                you having a domesticated animal(s) within city limits is not in any way "nature".  It is a lifestyle choice on your part.

                Which is fine and your choice, but it is up to you, not me, to deal with all of the responsibilities therein.  

                •  Sorry - I live in the county and no such (0+ / 0-)

                  restrictions apply.  Yes, we all clean up our dog's poop, but there no way in hell you are going to get a male dog to stop lifting his leg on every tree, fence post, or bush when you take him for a walk.  Is there really such a law within city limits - that your dog is not allowed to pee outside and if he answers the call of nature in the wrong place you are liable (how the hell are you supposed to clean up urine?)

                  A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

                  by marleycat on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:44:20 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Limits (0+ / 0-)

                  The property owner adjacent to a street simply does not own and have the right to control normal use by the public of the space within the area that is the street (which is not limited to the pavement and sidewalk, but the full width of the public's land).  Having a lawn that extends over that public space does not confer rights.  Animal feces are regulated within that space in many areas by ordinance, but the assumption that those ordinances extend to urine is simply wrong.

          •  I ran into exactly this situation - but the guy's (9+ / 0-)

            gun had been taken away from him.  I was walking my dog in our neighborhood and pooch sniffed the grass on my neighbor's (down the road and around the corner) lawn.  Neighbor came running out and started cussing at me to keep my dog off his lawn. The dog had taken two steps off the road (we have no sidewalks) to check out a leaf and this guy went ballistic.  I was so taken aback that I just looked at him and said "Give me a break!" That didn't help matters.  I then kept walking with him screaming at me until I went around the corner.  Next time I walked the dog I made sure to cross to the side of the road away from his house, and pooch decided to lift his leg on lawn of the person across the street (very nice man - owns his own dog.) The first neighbor STILL came running out and screamed at me that he could smell the urine and to keep my dog away.  From then on I made sure I carried my dog for the little section in front of this fellow's house (he's a little dog.)  Never had another problem, but learned that soon after the last outburst he was moved into a nursing home because of advanced alzheimers.  That's why his gun had been taken away in the first place.  It helped me understand why it was happening, but it was still kind of scary.

            A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

            by marleycat on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:25:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I Am Just Confused (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marleycat

              Until just a few years ago I spent my entire adult life living in DC. Capital Hill. Dog etiquette was kind of important. I mean there were a few dog parks, but generally speaking not a lot of grass. You cleaned up the poop, but urine. If there was some grass in a yard and the dog wanted to take a piss, well they did. You let your dog take a dump and don't clean it up you'd hear about it 24/7. But taking a piss. I can't even remotely think of anybody that had an issue with that.

              "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

              by webranding on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:36:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Don't worry - my dogs piss on everyone (0+ / 0-)

                else's lawn (and their dogs piss on mine.) I just didn't feel like getting this guy into a tizzy every time I walked by his house.

                A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

                by marleycat on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:46:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  He's not making excuses. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, ColoTim

      He's pointing out that this whole thing might not have happened had the dog owner not dissed someone's wishes concerning their property and then, with incredible stupidity, "sassed" a man holding a gun.

      As I once told a person who said he couldn't be bothered to look both ways before stepping into a crosswalk: "If someone hits you, you'll be in the right and they'll be in the wrong....but you're the one who'll be injured or dead."

      Everyone should exercise more personal responsiblity. Everyone.

      •  Uh huh. (0+ / 0-)

        So he deserved to die then?

        if someone dangles keys in front of my face I am fascinated by them. Thats what this website should be. -- rexymeteorite

        by Colorado is the Shiznit on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:07:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think that's what the comment (0+ / 0-)

          or this diary claimed.

          So he deserved to die then?

          So why do you keep acting like it is?

        •  Could you possibly be more arrogant? (0+ / 0-)

          Of course he didn't "deserve" to die. Did I, or the diarist, say so? No.

          But the world doesn't always care about who's wrong and who's right, or who "deserves" what.

          I care that a man is dead. The person who killed him is a murderer.  But maybe, just maybe, had the victim done things a little differently, he might still be alive.  

          If a person has any sense at all, they don't reach into thick bushes in areas where there are rattlesnakes and cotton mouths. They don't climb into a car with a drunk driver. And they don't mouth off to an angry man who's holding a gun.

          Being "right" is pretty meaningless when you're also dead.

  •  how many 'lawn owners' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas, theatre goon

    Are gonna be on the jury (pool)?
    Where this guys going, there isn't gonna be any natural light

    Who is Mighty? One who turns an enemy into a Friend!

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:47:15 AM PDT

  •  GOP argument coming in 3...2....1............... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Overseas, Miggles, Hookah

    Well, if the dog-owner had a gun, this wouldn't have happened.

    Guns for everyone, and nobody will get shot!!


    'The great religions are the ships. The poets are the lifeboats. Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.' - Hafiz

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:48:37 AM PDT

  •  Diary goes to great lengths to justify Clements (5+ / 0-)

    Not sure why...there is a kernel of justification to just about every insane act of aggression or over-the-top behavior. Doesn't mean it should be entertained as a "he said, she said" debate.

    Clement's an asshole who committed murder. We all live in this world fairly packed in close to one another. Sometimes, a dog is going to pee on your yard. Get the fuck over it.

    Now there are two kids who will grow up without a dad, a piece of crap rotting in a jail on my tax dollar, but by God there won't be any pee on his property!

  •  In no way is Joshua Funches "sass" equivalent (14+ / 0-)

    to Charles Clements violence.  I felt that you made the argument for that equivalence.

    Sass is bad manners and rude, but seldom do we say it was a "big mistake" -

    violence, murder is not a "big mistake"

    I feel as though you are giving an excuse for a man who beats his wife by saying that she shouldn't have been rude to him.

    "He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it." - Douglas Adams

    by Clytemnestra on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:49:20 AM PDT

    •  Clytemnestra (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks

      The diary does not say that a sass is equivalent to a shooting.

      It simply offers my suggestion: If a homeowner makes a lawful request regarding his property--even if it's in a rough tone and might seem hyper sensitive--the easiest way to tone down the situation is simply to say "sorry" and move on.

      Because of my personal experience with property issues, I've studied the law. And this is my simple suggestion in a situation like this. If you don't agree with it, fine.

      The diary flatly says that Clements went way too far and should never have introduced a gun into the situation. It can't be written any more clearly.

      •  If you're getting this much blowback from (10+ / 0-)

        the Daily Kos community, maybe you should pause and reflect on why that is.

        I think you're too close to your own situation to see clearly, quite frankly. The mental twists and turns you made in order to arrive at the conclusion that you did are rather stunning.

        Also, you got that "GET OFF MY LAWN!" thing goin' on, and you're kinda coming off as a jerk here.

        if someone dangles keys in front of my face I am fascinated by them. Thats what this website should be. -- rexymeteorite

        by Colorado is the Shiznit on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:59:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It may not explicitly say.... (7+ / 0-)

        "sass is equivalent to shooting", but when communicating you should understand how parallel language choices create equivalency in the mind of the audience.

        If I say "You made a mistake by walking home alone, and he made a mistake by stealing your purse", it sounds very much like a "Boy, it's a shame you both made mistakes" kind of argument rather than a "Gosh, he's such a total asshole" kind of argument.

      •  False equivalence in your personal experience too (5+ / 0-)

        RS: another problem I have w/ this diary is that you falsely equate your long-standing harassment/vandalism dispute w/ your neighbor and a dog urinating on a lawn.

        I'm curious to know why your neighbor was acquitted. Did you fail to document each incident? Did you have pictures and/or corroborating witnesses besides your wife?

        •  Dirk: (0+ / 0-)

          It's hard to communicate with you when you simply will not read what the diary says.

          I'm not equating harassment/vandalism with a dog peeing on a yard. I flatly say that a dog peeing on my yard wouldn't bother me in the least.

          I only bring up my personal experience because it has caused me to educate myself about the law. And I offer what I've learned about the law, and what can happen when you deal with neighbor/property issues.

          As for the criminal trespass case that you ask about, it wasn't a matter of not documenting anything. For one thing, I didn't handle the case. A prosecutor handles a criminal case, and the crime victim is at their mercy.

          As I state in this diary, the guy confessed to having trespassed. It's in the trial transcript, and I'd be glad to show you if you lived nearby. I don't know how much clear cut a case can be.

          He was acquitted because a judge decided to pull a decision out of his ass, rather than follow the facts and the law.

          That's why I started my blog in the first place: To alert the public that judges quite often rule unlawfully--and it has big consequences for real people.

          The same kind of thing happened in the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor cases in federal courts--although those clearly involved much more serious issues than criminal trespass.

          But judges made multiple unlawful rulings there, and innocent people now are in federal prison because of it.

      •  no it doesn't (4+ / 0-)

        you say Joshua Funches made a "big mistake"
        and I was sure you would have said Charles Clements made "an even bigger mistake" ... but you used the same category "big mistake"

        You may have intended to draw a big fat bright line between the two, but you didn't.

        "He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it." - Douglas Adams

        by Clytemnestra on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:03:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Unlawful (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cai

        Clements was almost surely not within his rights from the first to the last.  Beyond that, consider the nature of his response.  Wildly out of control does not begin to cover it.  

        •  Salmo . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Miggles

          It depends on where the dog was peeing, whether Clements was within his rights.

          If the dog was peeing on his actual lawn, then he was within his rights.

          If the dog was peeing on the grass between the sidewalk and the street, that probably is a public right of way--and Clements shouldn't have been concerned.

          I will say this, though: Many homeowners, almost all probably, maintain the front part of their yards, which tend to be right of ways. When you maintain something, you often feel it is your responsibility.

          Right of way law is tricky. It's public property, but public services don't come along and mow it usually. The homeowner has to do that, which might be why Clements felt he had a right to say something, regardless of where the dog was peeing.

          •  Yes, I agree (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, the homeowner has a proprietary sense and the appropriate and neighborly response is to give him/her consideration for the work he/she has done.  Getting along is quite different from the verbal or actual pushing and shoving that seems to have gone on in the case you cite in your diary.  

      •  why does it matter if this person is a property (0+ / 0-)

        owner?

        It simply offers my suggestion: If a homeowner makes a lawful request regarding his property--even if it's in a rough tone and might seem hyper sensitive--the easiest way to tone down the situation is simply to say "sorry" and move on.

        If any person, regardless of property owning or other status makes a lawful request the polite thing to do is to say sorry and move on. The key words are ANY person and POLITE. Politeness is not obligatory not does lack of it substantially change the situation in any appreciable way. An individual has a right not to be polite and expect that others will still adhere to relevant laws including those against violence. Further, a property owner should expect no special politeness due to this status.

  •  FALSE equivalence............. (10+ / 0-)

    wow.

    You're equating sassing someone to shooting someone?

    Seriously?

    I read the entire diary, and allowed for your opinion, but your conclusion is FUCKED.

    Seriously fucked.


    'The great religions are the ships. The poets are the lifeboats. Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.' - Hafiz

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:54:23 AM PDT

  •  Im a HUGE dog lover, mid 50s (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas, theatre goon

    & even I didn't realize how damn toxic simple dog piss is, My Mom complains about it when 'we' visit, but I never fully appreciated it till I laid a ton of SOD this spring... My new pup got out a few days ago & the neighbors across shrieked "Don't let that Dog pee on my grass" ... fat chance, it was too busy chasing her cat
    I though good fences were supposed to make good neighbors

    Who is Mighty? One who turns an enemy into a Friend!

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:00:49 AM PDT

  •  here's a good exercise for you. (8+ / 0-)

    Find out who Joshua Funche's family and friends are.  Get them to gather in one room for you.  Then read them this diary in its entirety.

    You'll soon see, perhaps even feel, how ridiculous your conclusions are.


    'The great religions are the ships. The poets are the lifeboats. Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.' - Hafiz

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:05:39 AM PDT

  •  What a moron (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marleycat

    Only FEMALE dog urine kills lawns.  Male dog urine makes it grow great.

    The Democratic Party: Keeping Their Powder Dry Since 1968.

    by punkdavid on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:18:25 AM PDT

    •  Not a moron - just may not have had dogs before. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm on my fourth female dog, and also have a male.  It was only after seeing all these brown spots on my lawn with the first dog that I learned there was a difference.

      A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

      by marleycat on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:34:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe so, but male dog pee kills bushes (0+ / 0-)

      Trust me on this.  My poor wee shrubs!

      "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." -Thomas Paine

      by sierrak9s on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:58:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Punkdavid . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Is that true? I've often wondered if dog pee really damages lawns.

      I've looked out many times to see dogs peeing in our yard, but I've never noticed any apparent damage from it.

      Do you know what it is about urine from female dogs that is hard on yards?

      Any chemistry majors around here?

      •  It's more concentrated, is all (0+ / 0-)

        Adult male dogs -- most of them, at least -- pee a little at a time on a whole lot of places, to "mark" them.

        Female dogs -- most of them, at least -- don't care about marking, and void the entire bladder in one concentrated place.

        There are some female dogs who mark.  I had one for nearly 14 years, and she would scoot up on her front legs, getting her rear end as high as she could, to mark high up on bushes.  Hilarious.

        "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." -Thomas Paine

        by sierrak9s on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:20:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My male dog pees on the grass, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StepLeftStepForward

        as evidenced by the brown/yellow spots all over my back yard.

        Big fucking deal, it's just grass.

        "Kindly go render the fat in your head in a large kettle of boiling water. Thank you." - Bumblebums

        by balancedscales on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:25:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I had a male dog as a kid (0+ / 0-)

        And I can tell you, not only did his pee not kill the grass, but the spots that he peed along the side of our front walk (where he DID empty his bladder after being inside all day) grew thick and lush and green compared to the rest of the lawn.

        The Democratic Party: Keeping Their Powder Dry Since 1968.

        by punkdavid on Thu May 20, 2010 at 09:21:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know what to think about this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, cai

    I share the above commenter's concerns about potentially trivializing a death.  IMO that's not about "property rights," that is about murder.  People get into disputes all of the time; fact of life.  Murder is another thing which IMO has mental health.

    Really sorry to hear about the harassment at the hands of your neighbor, though, and the loss of your job.

    climate.gov---POTUS' New Science-Based Climate Change Agency

    by GN1927 on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:19:10 AM PDT

    •  "has mental health implications" (0+ / 0-)

      climate.gov---POTUS' New Science-Based Climate Change Agency

      by GN1927 on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:19:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  GN1927 . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for your kind words.

      I want to make it clear that I don't mean to trivialize a death. It's just that this whole situation started over property issues--and, unfortunately, I know a lot more about property issues than I ever wanted to know.

      That's why I wrote the diary. I know a thing or two about property issues. Thankfully, I don't know a thing about people shooting each other--except that it's tragic when it happens.

      One of my goals with this diary is to examine how this could have been avoided.

      The really big mistake, clearly, was committed by the guy with the gun. The guy with the dog made a mistake by not simply saying "sorry" and moving on.

      Doesn't mean he deserved to be shot. Just means he made a poor decision.

      People make a lot of poor decisions when it comes to property matters. I know about that firsthand.

  •  Is a lawn even private property? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GN1927, salmo, Pandoras Box

    I would have thought that lawns are property of the city and that household owners are responsible for maintaining them.   It's why fire hydrants, street signs, and lamp posts can exists on a lawn.   Because the city owns the property.   And my city allows for pet urination on public property.  This would imply that dog owners can pee on any front lawn they want to.

    •  As I commented above (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GN1927, Pandoras Box, marleycat

      Almost surely, the lawn in question was public property.  However, dog owners cannot pee on any front lawn they want to - that is covered by public indecency.  Dogs however, are another matter.

    •  Detrius . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miggles

      You raise a good question, with a lot of legal subtlety to it.

      The answer is: It all depends on exactly where the dog was peeing.

      If you look at the photo of Clements' property in the Chicago Tribune, you see a sidewalk, with grass between the sidewalk and the street. On the other side of the sidewalk, toward Clements' house, is more grass.

      The grass toward Clements' house is his lawn and almost certainly is private property. The grass between the sidewalk and the street is probably in a right-of-way, making it public property

      My guess is that Clements, like most homeowners, maintains the grass in the right-of-way. But technically, it is public, allowing for improvements (sewers, utilities, etc.)

      If Funches and his dog were walking from right to left as you view the picture, and the dog was peeing on the grass to their right, then he was peeing on private property. If the dog was peeing on the grass to their left, he was peeing on public property.

      If Illinois law is similar to what I've learned in Alabama, I think that explains the situation in terms of public/private.

  •  Well... (5+ / 0-)

    As a dog owner, and someone who has dealt with dog waste, I can completely understand someone being very strident about cleaning up a dogs feces.

    Still, the only reason to get truly upset about a dog urinating on property is 1) if it's on your leg and 2) if it's on a well-protected garden (like, on a tomato seedling.)

    That said, I have seen a female dog completely destroy a plot of grass.  Males, with their tendency to 'mark', spread their urine around (generally).  Females tend to save it up and 'go all at once.'  This female was on a long line, tied in the back yard, and generally relieved herself in the same 10-foot area.  Between that and little rain to spread out the uric acid (I guess), she totally killed that plot, requiring new sod to be placed.

    That's NOT from 1 dog - or 100 dogs - stopping and relieving themselves in different places on a lawn.  That's from 1 dog relieving themselves 100 times or 1000 times in the same spot.

    As a dog owner, the guy should have apologized and gotten out of there.  Or, maybe he did try to discuss it rationally ("Hey!  It's just pee!  If it weren't, I'd clean it up!  Want me to bring a bucket of water and 'clean it up'?")

    I don't think the dog owner did anything wrong.  Still, if a guy were holding a gun on me, the LAST thing I'd say is, "...why don't you use it?"  

    "The joy of activity is the activity itself, not some arbitrary goal which, if not achieved, steals the joy." ~John "the Penguin" Bingham

    by sheddhead on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:29:41 AM PDT

  •  False equivalence (6+ / 0-)
    Funches' big mistake came when he apparently didn't simply say, "Sorry about that," and keep walking.... Clements' big mistake came when he introduced a gun into the equation.

    It is difficult to do justice to the falseness of the equivalence set up here.

    Perhaps the crux of it is in the phrase "introduced a gun." Uh, the gun did not fire itself. I think "fired the gun with intent to injure or kill" is more to the point. And "mistake" is hardly the word for that one.

    Nor is murder in any way equivalent to taking someone's football.

    Although you acknowledge that Mr. Clements went "way too far," his retaliation was fundamentally different in kind from glomming onto someone's football -- or insulting them -- rather than merely in degree.

    I am really having a problem with what seems to be the growing consensus in the United States, that violence, including potentially lethal violence is a proper -- or perhaps simply a predicatable -- response to insufficiently respectful behavior. We have long given the police a de facto bye on this one in many circumstances, and now you seem to be saying that this should extend to one and all. The NRA would be delighted, I am sure, as would the national association of funeral directors.

    But look -- you had a neighbor problem, of long standing and gearter seriousness, and you didn't shoot your neighbor, did you? You might have felt like it, but you didn't do it. (And reciprocally, neither did your neighbor shoot you.) However badly it may have worked out legally, you accepted that violence was not going to make things better. That is the difference between basic civilization and might-makes-right brutality. Give up that principle, and we can forget niceties like even the (admittedly spotty) due process we expect in other and larger arenas.

  •  It didn't end in "death." (5+ / 0-)

    It ended in murder.  There is absolutely no moral equivalency between sassing somebody making a lawful request, and killing someone for doing so.  "They both made mistakes"?  Technically true, but practically and morally irrelevant.

    Funches (allegedly) was rude, once.

    Clements (allegedly) murdered a man.

    My comments may not be used for any purpose without explicit permission.

    by cai on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:56:27 AM PDT

    •  Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive to this... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ballybough

      ... having recently been having discussions about victim-blaming and "should have"s in regards to other sorts of crimes.  But listen: when you say that someone who had a crime committed against them... battery, assault, murder, rape... when you say that they made a mistake in some way leading up to their victimization... you have to tread extremely carefully.  Because what may seem to you like simple strategic sense is really blaming the victim.

      It doesn't happen as often with murders.  I think that's part of why people are so stunned to see it.  It happens ALL THE DAMN TIME with rape and sexual assault.  It's toxic to the survivors.  It impedes any chance of legal justice, as jurors -- particularly, I'm sad to say, female jurors, who want to maintain their own illusions of safety -- judge everything the victims did, have ever done, instead of judging the criminal.

      Instead of saying one person showed poor judgment and one person committed murder, you basically said they both showed poor judgment.  Even in your "clarifying" comments, you say only that Clements made a "worse mistake".  This makes them sound like they are on the same continuum, maybe a step or two apart.  They are not even in the same universe.

      My comments may not be used for any purpose without explicit permission.

      by cai on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:27:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cai . . . (0+ / 0-)

        Your thoughts are well taken.

        I guess I used the term "big mistake" with Funches because it wound up costing him his life.

        I think it's clear that Clements' mistake, in terms of moral equivalence, was far greater. But Funches wound up paying the ultimate price when, I think, a simple "sorry" would have solved the problem.

        After all, reports say that Clements has no criminal history.

        I've been the victim of an assault, so I hear you loud and clear when you discuss that--and related issues.

        I'm not an expert, but crimes such as assault and rape seem to be cases where someone is unlawfully trying to assert power and authority over someone. Those are horribly abusive actions. I doubt that those crimes can be avoided with improved communication.

        In this case, it seems both parties used very poor communication. Clements was more sensitive than he should have been, and Funches failed to use the one word--"sorry"--that could have toned things down.

        I don't think Clements started out to exert any power over Funches. I think he wanted to protect his property--although he's probably more extreme than most people on that subject.

        You wonder if Clements had some health problems--mental or otherwise--that contributed to this. Stories say he served in the Marines. Were there scars from battle experiences? We don't know.

        Again, nothing justifies his actions. But we often have no way of knowing what the other guy is going through--or has gone through. That's why a simple "sorry" can work wonders when things get tense.

        From my own experience, that's what I wanted to hear from our neighbor. I wanted to hear "sorry, and we'll try to respect your property rights."

        Instead, all I got in return were threats and retaliation. I didn't shoot anybody. But I know it's not much fun when you receive that kind of response to a lawful request.

        •  But again, you're automatically sympathizing with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StepLeftStepForward

          Clements, because you've been in the situation of a disrespected property owner.  You're looking for emotional/mental reasons why he went for a gun, why he followed a man down the street, and why he killed a man.

          Why not extend the same amount of thought to Funches?  Maybe he had a bad day.  Maybe his kids were sick.  Maybe he was having trouble paying the bills.  Maybe he had learned -- as many of us do -- that backing down actually provokes bullies.  More than once I've been polite, non-confrontational, and that has only emboldened people.  When I tell them right off, they back down.  Now, obviously it didn't work in this case, and I'd try not to mouth off to a guy with a gun.  

          But I'm not dead.  Funches is dead.  He might have been dead even if he'd de-escalated.  People -- well, men -- need to get the hell over the idea that "respect" = deference is something they absolutely need from everyone, to the point where they have to kill when they don't get it.  You say Clements had no criminal record?  I say a guy that mean is either a) declining rapidly for some reason or b) has a long history of bullying.  If he had a wife or kids, I bet they'd seen his temper before.  And if you reply "why didn't they go to the police?", I'm flat-up leaving this discussion.

          My comments may not be used for any purpose without explicit permission.

          by cai on Thu May 13, 2010 at 01:20:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Cai (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know how much more plain I can make it. The diary already says Clements should not have gone for a gun. It says that repeatedly. I also voice concern that Clements reportedly followed Funches. From those two things, it's obvious I feel he shouldn't have shot or killed anyone.

            Like you, I've been in a situation where you try to reason with people, and it simply doesn't work. I tried that with our neighbor, and it didn't work.

            One difference in our situation and this one: Our only solution was to move from the bad, and we weren't going to do it. Funches had the option of keeping his mouth shut (other than to say "sorry) and keep on walking.

            I feel for Funches if he was having a bad day. I've had a lot of them over the past 10 years, thanks to property-related problems.

            But how hard is it to raise your hand, wave, say "sorry" and go on?

            It's not that hard to do. Given that Clements has served his country in the military, has no criminal history, has been married to the same woman apparently for many years, and he and his wife often worked together in the yard (so I see no signs, at this point, that he was abusive), I suspect that would have nipped the situation in the bud.

            Doesn't mean Funches deserved to be shot. Just means he made a poor decision. Clements made a bunch of poor decisions, too.

            •  People have told you how to be clearer. (0+ / 0-)

              You could change the parallel frame of your rhetoric.  But you're not keen on being told how to write your diaries, so.

              My comments may not be used for any purpose without explicit permission.

              by cai on Fri May 14, 2010 at 12:25:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Roger, you want Funches to be respectful but (0+ / 0-)

          you give Clements the benefit of the doubt - you indicate that he made a respectful, polite request. Do you even try to imagine that Clements might have been rude and nasty himself with his 'request,' prompting an equally rude response from Funches? No, you don't - even though one of the article's you cite,indicates that Clements had a history of 'barking' at people:

          Even while inside the split-level tract house, he watched over it like a hawk and popped out the front door to bark his recriminations,

          I think you are being very dishonest about this because of your own bias. Think about it.

          There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. - Bill Moyers

          by StepLeftStepForward on Thu May 13, 2010 at 01:28:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  "They both made mistakes." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box

    One "mistake" is not the equivalent of the other. Your conclusion is stupid. This story and yours could have had much different endings. You should have been able to defend your property from the thugs next door to the fullest extent of the law. Clement treated Funches as if he were a child, then in turn acted like one, over a simple rude gesture - letting his dog pee wherever the dog wanted. I expect Clement will spend the rest of his years in a very different yard - but he won, right?

  •  wow... over that worthless piece of grass? (0+ / 0-)

    and he shot a brother over it !  Yep.. this motherfucker was fucked up.    

    I've got a piece of grass about the same size in front of my house... the only reason its there is because its better than tracking mud into the house.

    "To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition." - Woody Allen

    by soros on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:10:38 AM PDT

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