I got an interesting comment from a person named Sam who visited from the K20 network in Everett about small claims court. He stated:
Believe me when I say this story is not made up.
Personally I think you are a troll, but you raise a good point that is worth discussing. Any good discussion often leads to interesting ideas and processes down the road. So even though I think Sam is a troll, this one is worthy and will help me work out the process I am thinking of doing. This is why I think I can win in small claims court over the phrase in the HOA Rules and Regulations Document, Quiet enjoyment of my home.
Let’s take this from the top, which is the rules and regulations for Small Claims Court off the King County Web site. Please feel free to click on over there and see what they state you can and cannot do.
Who Can Sue And Be Sued?
Anyone can be sued for any reason; there are two things I would be suing over, one the noise from her car radio at 1 or 2 AM which violates King County noise ordinances, the damage to the common property such as damage to the walls, the art work, and trash around the building (the HOA should do this but they won’t, they prefer to fine her every month for this). I am debating to sue over the smell of cigarette smoke up and down the entire floor of the condo building which I happen to share with the person I am planning on suing. I would be using the argument over “quiet enjoyment of my property” and using the process of trash, destruction of common area property, smells, and noise ordinances. I might only be able to get the noise ordinance to be the effective tool for this lawsuit.
At the very least I can get a no-contact order for the noise issues based on what I am reading on the King County web site for no-contact orders. Either would suit me just fine, we will be doing the no-contact order regardless of what happens in small claims court. This is specific to Washington State and other local jurisdictions will differ. But I think I have two plausible arguments here, assuming that I am going to have a judge similar to Judge Judy on this one, and that is how I am framing this in my mind.
How Much Does It Cost?
Cost is not really an issue, I can do all this for around 200 dollars between court costs, process serving, and other fees between getting this case registered and processed.
How Do I Get Started?
I am planning on going down to the court house; I will need according to them the following: It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to accurately identify the defendant, provide a proper address and, if possible, provide a phone number. All of this is public record, as she has an extensive series of records in King County. Since I live in the same condo complex, the address is not a problem.
Serving the Notice
I will have the local police department serve the notice.
How Long Do I Have To File My Case?
I have a year from the time of the first incident, since this is ongoing and I have a detailed log going back to August, and this is an ongoing issue, I think that if I file this month I will meet this criteria.
What If We Settle?
That would be awesome, as it is still a determination, although I don’t think we will settle, this is always an option, and one I would not mind pursuing. I really don’t care what the person does as long as it is not in the parking lot right next to my window at 1 or 2 AM.
Preparing For The Trial
The King County web site states:
You can help yourself by being well prepared. To prepare for the trial, collect all papers, photographs, receipts, estimates, canceled checks, or other documents that concern the case. It may be helpful to write down ahead of time the facts of the case in the order that they occurred. This will help you to organize your thoughts and to make a clear presentation of your story to the judge. It is also a good idea to sit through a small claims court session before the date of your hearing. This will give you first-hand information about the way small claim cases are heard.
I have a detailed log of everything that has happened since August that shows a pattern of behavior I am seeking to not have happen. I have records from the HOA about fines for the same behavior; I have pictures of the aftermath of said behavior, and other information to aide my case of “quiet enjoyment of my property”. Really this all hinges on what is “quiet enjoyment of my property” and I will be relying on the R&R’s from the Condo, and ordinances from King County for noise. There is actually a specific ordinance on car radios which I was surprised to find. If the “quiet enjoyment of my property” argument fails then small claims fails. This does not mean that I can’t get the no-contact order, that is a separate argument that falls more under the noise ordinances and some verbal issues that have happened in the past.
What Happens At The Trial?
I am planning on Judge Judy, I need all my data to be fair and honest and factual. So far I have that.
What If My Opponent Does Not Appear For Trial?
Then I win by default and will give the person an opportunity to pay, if not I can send this off to bill collection.
How Do I Collect My Money?
The King County site states: A money judgment in your favor does not necessarily mean that the money will be paid. The Small Claims Court does not collect the judgment for you. If no appeal is taken and the judgment is not paid within 30 days, or the time set by the court in the payment plan, you may request (in writing) and upon payment of a $20 fee, that a transcript of the judgment be entered into the civil docket of the court. At that time you may proceed with a method of collection such as garnishment of wages, bank accounts, and other monies of the defendant or an execution may be issued on cars, boats, or other personal property of the judgment debtor. Remember, the clerks cannot give you legal advice. You may need the assistance of an attorney or collection agency at this point. In the alternative, you may take your transcript of the judgment and file it in superior court for a fee of $20. Other fees may be required by the superior court clerk or county auditor. When this is done, it places a lien against all real estate in the name of the judgment debtor that is located in the county. When the judgment has been paid in full you must send written notice to the district court that the judgment has been satisfied.
Can You Appeal A Case If You Lose?
If I lose, I am not worried about it, at least I made an attempt. Personally if I lose I’ll sell the property, take out a signature loan for the remainder of the balance owed, and quit the property. While I would like the issues to stop, the ultimate and last thing I can do is simply leave, and that is on the table as an option. Since it does not look like I will be able to rent it based on what other people who live on the same side as I do because of the smell, trash, and noise, I’ll probably just short sale it and call it good. It is more important for me to be happy and healthy in my own home than it is to keep living in a place that is unhealthy for me to live in.
Thanks Sam, and even though I think you are a troll, you seem like a nice troll, and well worth having the discussion with.
Regardless of your opinions of how you feel about Child Sex Predators, or how you feel about a story like this, there are some interesting things that need to be addressed. In the UK a court has requested that Facebook take down a page that seeks to collect and share sex predator information across the UK. The Facebook page has no problems naming names, and posting pictures of the offenders. What made the case for the offender who has been able to get the court to agree to this is that the Facebook Page “Keeping our kids safe from predators” should be taken down was over a 20 year old case.
While this is UK law, and I am not familiar with UK law at all, should we name and shame a sex predator from a 20 year old case. The courts in this specific opinion believed that he had served enough time, and that it would be improper to have additional information about something 20 years old. Of course people feel very strongly about rape and child sex, so the comments on the page are pretty much so in line with what you would expect. There are threats of violence, and that was one of the other things noted in the BBC article, that he was worried about being burned out of his house for the 20 year old offense.
While naming and shaming has been a huge topic lately, especially after Gawker outed Violentacrez, and a bunch of high schoolers for posting racist comments on twitter, there is also already a web site called “whosincourt.co.uk” that basically posts information about who has shown up in the crown court for any reason.
Naming and shaming is not anything new, for Seattle King County and City Data all have data and maps on registered sex offenders in the area so you know what you are living next to when you go shopping for a house. These records rarely ever disappear out of the public database, so you are liable to run across decades old cases. And yes there are plenty of Facebook pages that seek to out sex offenders in the name of public service.
Naming and shaming, tying into public records databases, even just going through your local county or city records for any kind of crime is one of those things that big data and mashups allow us to do. While the case might be 20 years old, people are going to be interested in what is going on, who lives where, and what protections we need to take for ourselves or our families. If I had known that my condo complex was going to sell a unit to a mentally ill person with a history of violence, I would never have bought the unit I live in. Can I name and shame her and the HOA board for issues I have carefully documented or recorded on camera? Yes, yes I can as long as I am willing to pay the price for my freedom of speech. Is a sex offender really truly ever rehabilitated? I think with some yes, with others no, it depends on the person. Do I have a right to see if someone near me has a court record for being a sex offender, yes, can I publish it as just the facts, yes as long as I am willing to pay the price for what I am saying, and I had better be darn factual about it so I don’t get sued for libel.
Naming and shaming is part of independent web sites, Facebook is just an extension to that. While Facebook now faces a court order to shut down the original page, more pages have cropped up on Facebook with similar/same content. Even the Huffington Post talks about similar issues with a page that has since been shut down or removed (for whatever reason including the person taking it down themselves).
Facebook is now the new billboard, we used to post crimes in the paper, police blotters are part of both the web and newspapers. You can go back through any newspaper and read it for the police blotter to find out what is happening in your area. Facebook presents a really large bill board to post on, the question is what do we do about older data, that might not be relevant any more or might cause the loss of life to a sex offender who has not reoffended?
Over at the Adjunct Project there is an endlessly fascinating data sheet about what it is like to be an Adjunct across the United States right now. If the statistics they are citing are absolutely true, we are looking at about 70% of all teaching positions right now in this nation are filled with Adjuncts. Adjunct instructors often work class to class and term to term for a set wage that from my experience ranges from 400 dollars for a 5 week term, to 800 for a 16 week term of which the instructor only teaches for 8 of those weeks while instructors are swapped out, to about 3200 per term per class regardless of the class size, that usually is well over the maximum class size set by the university. If the average class is something on the order of 24 students, and the pay is 400 for the whole term, for five weeks, the instructor is paid an average of 16.67 dollars per student for the whole term. Students will consume much more than 17 dollars in resources from any instructor over a five week period.
I have taught at for profit colleges, not for profit colleges, and community colleges over my time being an adjunct. By far the community college system here pays much better so I tend to make them my primary, and then fill in what is missing in terms of salary by working at for profit or not for profit online only.
I am also fortunate in that I can do this and not have to worry about medical or dental because of my spouse’s job. For me the real issue is trying to figure out where all I have a 401K that I contribute to, and how to manage them across institutions. The other issue is trying to do my own research, my own business, and other things that keep me busy, knowing that the bills need to be paid, so I have to teach at on average three colleges a term to help support our life style.
The Adjunct Project brings about some really interesting information in their data sheet about pay across the board. From my own experience I have found that online, not for profit or for profit colleges pay the least, while State run or State supported colleges often pay the best. The data from the Adjunct project basically supports that finding on my own part. I’ll be tearing apart the data later on this week as part of my own interest in how pay ranges from state to state, and how for profit, not for profit, or state colleges range in pay against what students pay in tuition.
I will state though before I start this project that I am a happy Adjunct.
I will also state though before I start this project that we trust the education of our college students to Adjuncts that are emotionally and mentally disengaged from the educational organization. Since we are part time, we don’t have to play with politics, we don’t have to deal with offices, or phones, or other accoutrements of position. We can be completely disengaged from the organization; we don’t have to care about the college or the quality of its instruction. All we have to worry about is the tyranny of what the students think of us, and keep on praying that we remain popular with them. We also need to worry about the tyranny of politics to a limited extent, as we don’t play in the organization; we also are at the mercy of the organization. That assumption from the Adjunct Project is valid given my own experience.
The interesting part is what is driving this is a few ideas that are coming out of the tenured track faculty. In some ways this is self-serving to them – if Adjuncts can be paid so little for teaching, why are tenured faculty being paid so much? This is an argument for further pay decreases or holding pay raises in place until sometime 20 years down the road adjunct pay maybe catches up with full time tenured faculty pay. It is in tenured faculties interest to ensure that pay is somewhat equitable, because they are increasingly feeling the heat from fewer full time to more and more part time. It becomes harder to justify a high pay scale for tenured faculty when 70% of the university is working without benefits, without a safety net, without offices, phones, or copiers. Comptrollers are not missing this message, and tenured professors are more and more of an endangered species because of it.
What is not mentioned though in any of the articles over on the Adjunct Project, Copy Paste, The Chronicle, or New Faculty Majority is that there is a level of disengagement between Adjuncts and the Institution.
As an Adjunct I don’t have to care about your school, your students, your “educational objectives”, your employees (if I even engage with them on a regular basis), you mission, vision, or other non-sense that makes a University a home away from home for thousands of students. Or even begins to prepare them for the jobs they are praying to get. I don’t have to care about anything other than making students happy. Some Adjuncts I have known never give anything lower than a B, some Adjuncts are so removed from the institution that they show up in their online classes once a week to set up each week and call it “facilitated learning”. In other words don’t bug me, I am in once a week to make sure things are going good, in the meantime make sure you are teaching yourself or the class is teaching itself. Why care for 17 dollars per student per term?
If there is a crisis, and there is, Higher Education is about as dysfunctional at this point as anything else because of multiple reasons (insert educational heresy here), the real point to all this is that no amount of organizing, no amount of pay, and no amount of anything else is going to make me care about your college other than making students happy. I don’t care about your institution because even if unionized, I will remain disposable, I still won’t get an office or if I do I will be sharing it with two or three other adjuncts. I will get the worst possible school supplied computer, and be at the tail end of any kind of perk. That will always show through because even if I am paid 7000 per class, even if I get all the other things they want, I am still an adjunct, and still at the mercy of the students and at the mercy of the institution.
The goal of this should add, get me to care about your company, your college, make me feel welcome, warm and fuzzy. Make me a part of the team, part time never is going to be “part of the team”, living term to term, semester to semester is not going to make me care about your institution, for as long as I remain disposable, the converse holds true, I need you only so much as I need a paycheck, and most adjuncts are so used to this game that they always have three or four places they work to ensure they can still pay the bills.
I had a really fun time yesterday down at Slutwalk Seattle 2012. I am also very glad that I had my press cred’s as an e-mail as I got asked at least four times about why I am here and what am I doing before we even made it to Westlake for the rally. [...]
This is an interesting turn of events in terms of what it could be like to be a photographer in the near future. There is already enough problems over being a photographer and trying to take pictures of the police, or other government servants in action, but now Techdirt is reporting that a blogger took and posted on her web site of Raanan Katz, a co-owner of a sports team and a billionaire. The good part is that she seems to be well defended by her lawyers right now; the bad part is that Katz has also taken on Google to have the picture removed.
As a photographer I do take pictures, sometimes thousands of them, and when I am culling them I am really looking at more like eyes closed, is it in focus, are the colors right, do I like it. These judgments are made on the fly, usually with only a few seconds to make the opinion, delete it or keep it and move on. There has been the occasional non-flattering picture that makes it into my photo streams on Smugmug and Flickr, generally if someone complains I’ll take a look at it again, and then decide if there is enough artistic merit to keep it. I do get the occasional complaint, generally I have many other pictures so I don’t sweat it and will generally take it down, sometimes I think I really like it, it tells its own story, and I’ll keep it. But no one in my knowledge has ever been successfully sued for showing an unflattering picture of someone.
If that was the case then TMZ, most grocery store news rags, and some fashion magazines are in for a hard time. They make money off of unflattering pictures of celebrities. If it was not for the occasional unflattering pictures of people who are in the public eye, so many businesses would be out of business. All someone would have to do if Katz wins this one is say it was unflattering, and have it yanked. While right now Katz seems to be undergoing the Streisand effect with the lawsuit, photographers have to think about all the pictures they take of people, and the subsequent mayhem that would happen if everyone hated their picture and wanted it taken down. People pictures, street photography, candid’s, a lot of photography would be under the gun, and seriously in jeopardy.
It is good that Katz is suing Google along with this; Google has some awesome lawyers that will help the blogger win her case. But on the odd chance that Katz prevails, people who take pictures of people are in for a very rough ride in the future.
Yesterday was the Seattle Gay Pride Parade 2012, and I was taking pictures down in Westlake. Overall the parade seemed like it was ok, but it felt constrained or more restrained than last year for some reason. Lately it seems like a lot of people are desperately trying to have a good time, but while [...]
The US Government wants to modify 22 USC 1461 sec 501 so that they can put propaganda on the internet. There is a risk of people being exposed to said propaganda, but wouldn’t you really like to know what the US Government is saying to other countries, and specifically to the citizens of those other [...]
Just some random thoughts on Occupy Seattle for May Day 2012. I have to admit this is the first time that anyone has ever called me an exploitative pig because I was out there taking pictures of the event. But I really seemed to have ticked off one of the members of the group, but [...]