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 Bureaucratic tyranny

16.04.19. Hear me out. This is happening to all of us – right now.
A California man is fighting an “unconstitutional receivership scheme” in which his city employs a private law firm to prosecute property-code violations then collects fees from the homeowner.
Ron Mugar, defended by the Institute for Justice, the IJ, resolved numerous code violations that put his property in receivership. He passed inspection and a court vacated the receivership.
A victory for Mugar?
Not so fast, said the city and its for-profit prosecutors. They filed a motion with the court to be “declared the prevailing party,” and Mugar must now pay the law firm $60,000 in attorneys’ fees.
“Norco’s receivership scheme is unconstitutional,” said the IJ attorney Jeffrey Redfern. “Both the U.S. and California Constitutions give citizens the right to face a neutral prosecutor and judicial system. By introducing a profit incentive to the system, Norco and the private lawyers it has hired have created an illegal incentive to rack up fines and legal fees, rather than neutrally enforce the city’s laws.”
IJ said Mugar received notice from the firm of Dapeer, Rosenblit & Litvak LLP that they were going to take over ownership of his house using the receivership process.
So Mugar cleaned his yard, hired a lawyer and fought back, winning in court.
The IJ said “attempting to collect attorneys’ fees for a prosecution that the city lost is patently illegal, which is why Ron has partnered with the Institute for Justice to put an end to the city’s use of private lawyers to enforce municipal code violations once and for all.”
Joshua House, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, said Mugar “has always followed orders to comply – there was no need to threaten to take his home.”
“Moreover, it’s unconscionable that he is facing crippling fees after successfully fighting back,” he said.
“By penalizing people for defending their property rights, Norco is violating Ron’s constitutional right to defend himself in court.”
IJ said receiverships are supposed to be a last resort for a city to address an actual safety threat.
“But now, an increasing number of California cities are empowering private, for-profit law firms to use receivership laws address minor code violations by threatening to take away residents’ homes. In the process of doing so, these firms charge enormous, sometimes bankruptcy-inducing amounts of money for their ‘services.’ And the more they fine and charge homeowners, the more money they make,” IJ said.
IJ argued the due process clauses of the U.S. and California Constitutions “require city attorneys to be neutral, without a financial stake in the cases they bring.”
IJ settled a case in Indio, California, in which the city hired a private firm to enforce its code and the lawyers charged an elderly woman nearly $6,000 because her tenants had chickens in their back yard.
Now what has this to do with Australia? With NSW in any case, and probably every other state.
Local councils issues fines – and some councils are gung ho about it. The Shoalhaven City Council is one such. Their issuing of fines has increased considerably in the last few years. Very considerably.
The ratepayer gets a fine, thinks about it, and writes in to tell Council that the fine is unjust, or wrong, or not really commensurate with the fault.
The Council writes back and says it’s out of their hands. It is being collected by someone else – write to them.
So you write and the Collection Agency tells you that they need something from the Council!!
Next thing you know you are in court.
So you tell the beak that you don’t want to waste any more time, you will pay the bloody thing.
So you attempt to pay or settle with the council and it does the Pontius Pilate; tells you it is out of their hands; additionally they often give some bullshit about ICAC, and conflict of interest and other pious crap.
So they won’t take your money. It goes to court and you now pay legal fees.
Sweet.
Parking offences, speeding offences, environmental offences, a business thriving on the fact that the fine is probably one tenth or one twentieth of what it costs to get a lawyer.
A while back Shoalhaven Councillors, incensed by the case of a woman whose gardener removed some shrubs growing against her fence and located on a derelict small lot owned by Council ended up with a $40,000 fine, passed a resolution that when this sort of thing happens again it requires a sit down and some agreement that the offender will make appropriate restitution eg by planting some replacements and caring for them. That is still policy.
But who gives a damn?
No bureaucracy gives a damn.
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • luk1955 16/04/2019, 7:14 am

    There is a Melbourne firm called Redf**ks, aka Redflex, that makes scameras to steal money from law abiding motorists. They have been prosecuted in the US for bribery and fraud and some of their top people are serving jail in the US. No doubt they are doing that here. I filed a complaint with the AFP to this effect, and the AFP refused to prosecute. The Imperial Acts Application Act, along with the 1914 Crimes Act, protects Australians against government entities set up as businesses, like local councils and ASIC. Anytime there is a fine, there is corruption and deprivation of due process. Which is why all fines need to be fought, if only the people would get their noses out of the tv and learn a few laws of enormous benefit to them.

  • Penguinite 16/04/2019, 11:21 am

    If you want to know about tyranny just ask Trump! And watch Bannon on this vid! http://catallaxyfiles.com/2019/04/15/bannon-on-the-winning-trump-agenda/

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