Thursday, April 8, 2010

This Story Needs To Be Told re: The Elderly Homelessness

Sharon Stephens

In my part of the country, Montclair, California, there are aproximately 93,000 men, women and children living on the streets near the County of Los Angeles. I am one of them: A 69 year old handicapped woman sleeping in my car -- for over a year now.

When I complained about "unsafe living conditions" and "criminal behavior on the property" at Briarwood Manor in Montclair I was evicted. I have three police reports for a woman brandishing a knife on me, locking me in the library and refusing to let me out, and for a man who threatened me and several other women in the dinning room. The owners also used the excuse that I "harassed" a friend of theirs living on the property, Stan Harris who was calling himself a medical doctor, when I complained about him to the Cal State Medical Board. All complaints were done respectfully, appropriately through proper channels, and my eviction was in retaliation. I always paid my rent.

I have documented everything.

The owners, Briarwood Partners, a.k.a. Amerland Group are "slum lords," and have evicted others from off their other properties in retaliation for complaining as well. It is part of a news story in the LA Times. When I began to complain regarding fire safety issues I didn't know the owners were in a million dollar lawsuit over the Alexandria Hotel in L.A. where they had "39 criminal fire code violations and five people died in a fire due to their lack of care and concern." [Those tenants who complained and were made homeless finally won a million dollars for "relocation" etc.]

These slum lords have private contracts to rent apartments through HUD. HUD knew the problems and did nothing to protect me, or other tenants who had valid complaints. Many elderly people end up homeless due to such illegal evictions. Once there is an eviction on one's record there is no land lord who will rent to them; they are stuck in the system and left to die on the street. (These slum lords also recently tried to evict two other tenants from the same building I was living in; both are handicapped.)

When I challenged my eviction the owners and attorney took out two bpgus restraining orders against me and they had me arrested five times with "no cause." The orders were for allegded work place violence [C.C.P. 527.8] that makes a claim for an employee being the victim of violence.

The law [criteria] to obtain such an order under C.C.P. 527.8 is that there must have been "acts of violence, and/or a credible threat of violence against an employee." Both charges must be proved by facts and law to the judge if he is to issue a viable order.

The first judge dismissed the first case because such things never happened and could not be proved. The second judge either didn't know, or ignored the law and issued an order anyway -- even though the employees stated loud and clear in court that I was "never violent, and never made any violent threats." And so I am now in court, Friday 9, 2010 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA to begin to rectify this order as "void on the face" -- for, "one cannot violate or be punished on a void order."

Restraining Orders are the most abused document in the courts, and are used too often by unethical attorneys to win a case against the opposition when they know they can't win any other way. (The owner's attorney, Linda Hollenbeck has presented provable perjured documents in court in an effort to win against me, and there is an county sheriff's report against her, and there is a State Bar complaint in which she may [ought to] lose her license.)

Restraining Orders are too often used to ruin the lives of others - and often times they do. I refuse to let that happen to me and have chosen to legally challenge them. Most people believe that judges know the law. That is incorrect. Judges specialize in law just as attorneys specialize in areas of law, or doctors specialize in medicine. Judges depend on attorneys to present the law and facts in court, and that is suppose to be how a case is decided -- based on facts and law.

When judges ignore the law, or choose not to follow the law a case becomes void and can drag on for months -- years -- it is one of the reasons our courts are over-flowing. It is the reason my case is over a year old, It has been estimated that "If all of the void cases were brought to court there would not be court room space to handle them." In California "void cases never die" and can be brought to court even twenty years after a case has closed. I am not waiting.

Unfortunately not many attorneys know how to fight a "void case" and this makes for a lot of people being sent to prisons who are in fact innocent. The US Department of Justice believed in 1999 " least 10% of all who are incarcerated are innocent." With "one out of every one-hundred Americans incarcerated, that means thousands are innocent." (When called to serve this is one of the reasons I give for not sitting on a jury.)

A few months ago a judge refused to read my Motion To Dismiss -- he did not know the law of void judgments, and sent me to jail for forty-four days. The attorney he assigned to me didn't know the laweither - and the District Attorney let it happen. I had Public Defenders who did not know the law of void judgments, and a Deputy District Attorney who "abused her discretion" and did no "due diligence" to make sure I would have a fair trial. District Attorneys have a higher standard than other attorneys to prove there is a case before they file a case.

I am writing a book, and have a BLOG.

I am also working in my city to try and get services for the homeless -- whom I meet on the street every day. I am hoping to also attend the Washington D.C. National Alliance to End Homelessness in July.

Most Sincerely~Sharon Stephens