Dealing With the Difficult Recording Clerk at the County Level

When a County Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, “Refuses to Record”

Most legal remedies for misconduct or crimes committed by government officials must be formally presented and officially “sanctioned” by the courts. Inevitably, the cost of litigation and the courts inherent reluctance to favor private citizens who sue the government teach us that we “can’t sue city hall” – even if the folks who work there are crooks.

Shielded by the official and practical immunities inherent in our legal system, government officials are encouraged to believe they are “above the law”, beyond the reach of common people, and free to abuse their powers. No longer accountable in court, the frequency of official misconduct, oppression, and injustice is rising but normally unpunished.

Commercial liens seem to have extraordinary power for attacking government officials who break the Law. The key to the liens’ power is found in the fact that these liens are applied non-judicially – without the knowledge, approval, or interference of a judge. Because the judges aren’t involved, they can’t stop you from filing your liens, and therefore, they can ‘t shield the government.

Instead, to file a commercial lien, you prepare the necessary documents and simply file them (along with a modest filing fee) with the local county clerk, recorder of deeds, etc. or whatever county agency is responsible for filing public documents.

But problems are beginning to develop. Since the legal system can’t stop these liens with high legal fees and biased judges, the county clerks are beginning to restrict the filing of liens. I.e., you prepare your lien, round up your $50 filing fee. and present yourself, your money, and your lien to the county clerk and he refuses to accept the lien. The lien can ‘t work if it ‘s not filed, so a recalcitrant clerk can stop your lien cold. Although the clerk’s refusal to file the lien documents is almost certainly unlawful, I’ve heard reports that “refusals to file” are increasingly common in California, Ohio. and other states.

The following is one man’s recommendations for dealing with county clerks who refuse to file your liens (or other documents). This procedure is primarily based on the Uniform Commercial Code. Because several of the steps require you to wait patiently (30 days or more) for the government’s response, the total process may take six months or more to complete.

These lengthy delays are difficult for those of us who are used to a diet of instant TV, microwave food, and fast gratification, to accept. Which is to say, here ‘s another obstacle – time – our legal system uses to prevent the People from compelling government officials to obey the Law.

So be it.

But what does it take to overcome this obstacle? Just patience, persistence and determination. The first one, two, or even three individuals who fight to compel the clerks to properly record their liens may have to struggle for most of a year. However, once the clerks begin to see their personal liability, they’ll return to obeying the law and recording the liens. It may take time, but it is clearly time that must be spent by a handful of people to open the doors for the rest of the public.

In general, it looks as if the liens can be used to compel the judges and public officials to obey the law, and The Uniform Commercial Code can be used to compel the clerks to obey the law. Point: where there’s a will, there ‘s a legal remedy.

Advice: Learn to work with others. Your witnesses are your friends, advisors, and legal “safety net” Unless you have absolutely no choice, don’t try to “lien on” government officials all by yourself. Bring at least two witnesses along to every face-to-face meeting with the clerk, Recorder of Deeds, Sheriff etc.. After the meeting, have your witnesses prepare sworn affidavits of whatever they saw and heard the clerk, official, sheriff say, do, etc. If the clerk refuses to file your lien and you have no witnesses, it’s really just your word against his or hers. And if the clerk refuses to provide a written explanation for his refusal, it’s still your word against his.

However, if you bring witnesses, the officials will be more intimidated and less likely to refuse your lawful Demands in the first place. It may take a little persuasion, but if the clerks begin to suspect they are being “trapped” into a potentially litigious situation, they’ll be more likely to cooperate and file your lien or call their boss (and thereby generate more witnesses, and more public controversy). If the clerks, officials, etc. still refuse to do their sworn duty, your witnesses and their affidavits will provide a solid foundation for pursuing stronger legal remedies.

Finally, as is always the case with instructions, forms, etc., bear in mind that the following recommendations were not provided by a licensed lawyer, or “sanctified” by some judge. What follows is only a study guide intended to outline one man’s notion on how to compel government officials to do their sworn or lawful duty. Before you apply any or all of these recommendations, you must do the necessary research to confirm the strategy is valid and can be lawfully applied to your local county clerk, recorder of deeds, Sheriff etc. – Editor

When a county clerk, recorder of deeds, etc. “refuses to record”:

1. Get a written explanation, reason or “excuse” from clerk who refuses to record your document. This is the First link in your “chain of evidence”.

2. As per your state Uniform Commercial Code section 3-505/501, send a “Notice and Demand For Exhibition Or Presentment Without Dishonor” by certified mail to the office (county clerk, recorder of deeds, etc.) that refused to accept your lien. In that “Notice and Demand”, demand that they produce for your inspection:

a) The Statute or Law passed by the Legislature which authorizes them to condemn the “Public” records for their personal and private use;

b) Their personal Bar/ Lawyer I.D. Number issued by the State Bar or State Supreme Court which authorizes them to make “Legal Determinations”; and,

c) The Statute of Law passed by the Legislature which authorizes them to edit and/or censor documents prior to recording.

Give them reasonable time (30 days) to comply with your DEMAND to prove written authority, and then put them ON NOTICE that the “Law of Principal and Agent” specifies that “The Agent is personally liable for acts not authorized by the Principal.” As such, unless there are laws granting the clerk the power to refuse to record certain documents, the clerk/agent has no corporate veil of immunity for his or her refusals and may be personally vulnerable to a lawsuit.

3. If, after the reasonable time has elapsed, and they have failed to produce the written “authority” you Demanded, send a Notice Of Default by certified mail, notifying them that they have defaulted by not answering. In it, provide them with a “right to cure” their Default by recording your original lien (or other documents) without further interference, or suffer the consequences. Allow 10 to 30 days for their response.

4. If they don’t respond in the 10 to 30 days, send them certified mail, a “Notice of Amount Due” for the damage caused by their injury to you (or your Property Rights) by their defalcation, dereliction of duty, default, and unauthorized “Refusal to Record” in a “sizable amount” ($1,000??). Again, give them reasonable time (30 days) to pay you.

5. After the 30 days reasonable time has passed (plus 4 or 5 days for the mail), send them certified mail a “Final Notice of Amount Due” for the damage caused by their injury to you. Again, give them reasonable time (30 days) to pay you the amount of damages you’ve demanded.

6. If they don’t pay your “Final Notice” Demand in 30 days (plus 4 or 5 days for the mail), go to the County Elected Peace Officer (Sheriff), present copies of the two certified mail Demands for payment, sign a “Distress Warrant” or “Distraint Warrant” stating that you have NOT been paid, and have the Sheriff go get your money or sell the clerk’s car, mobile home, boat-motor-trailer, or whatever, to get your money for you (just like the “Consumer Finance” lenders and the IRS do).

7. At any stage of this “procedure”, you can send the offending clerk(s) a letter and “offer to settle” (“Right to Cure Default”) if they will “perform their sworn duty” and “Record without debate” your document or lien. If they fail or refuse, go on to the next step in the procedure. The purpose of this procedure is to force them to do what they are paid to do, not to sell their car, boat, whatever. Even after the sheriff takes some of their property, you might still offer to give them back their car (or whatever) if they will “Record” your document without further question. This is to show “Good Faith”.

8. If the Sheriff refuses to perform his Sworn Duty to execute upon your “Distraint Warrant”, inform him that you personally will perform his sworn duty FOR HIM, and on his behalf. Inform him, also, that the newspapers will be informed that he has refused to perform his own sworn duty but continues to cash his pay check, and that this constitutes FRAUD by him since he only performs “Selective Enforcement” of the law – which is unlawful. Inform him that the resultant publicity may have a negative impact on his chances for running for reelection, and that you may have to sue him in his personal capacity for money damages due to his Dereliction of Duty, Defalcation, Embezzlement of Public Funds, and damage due to his injury to you and/or to your property rights.

9. Send the Sheriff by certified mail a “Notice and Demand for Production or Exhibition Without Dishonor” of the Law or statute that authorizes him to:

a) perform “selective enforcement” of the Law;

b) accept the People’s pay and not execute on lawful Warrants;

c) personally edit and censor documents, or refuse to perform his duty under his sworn oath (which is PERJURY).

10. If either the Sheriff or the Recorder of Deeds says that they take their “orders” from some government lawyer, get that in writing! This “Admission/ Confession” becomes the Second link in the “Chain of Evidence” or the “Preponderance of Evidence” that you will be creating.

After, and only after, you have the above “Admission and Confession” in writing, leave their office. (Alternatively, you might bring one or two witnesses with you who will later provide affidavits describing what the Sheriff or Recorder said.) Then perform the previous certified mail step#2 and add item:

d) provide the Statute of Law passed by the Legislature that authorizes them to relinquish their office over to another (whoever – regardless of whether they’re government attorneys or not) while continuing to accept and negotiate (cash) their pay check after having turned over their office to said “other”.

Remember, you are exposing a HUMONGOUS scam. The lawyers’ club has usurped the government from the Legislature and from the People, and you are exposing this fact. Do not expect Satan to give up easy and go home. He and his minions never have before, so why expect them to now? They are all part of the “New World Order” and they are the “Politburo” of the party. They truly believe that they are the “chosen few” to dictate the lives of the “Sheeple” on behalf of the World, Corporate, “Money Mafia” Bankers.

MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION:

When dealing with the registrar or recorder don’t allow them to make any legal determinations for you. If they say ‘this doesn’t look right’, or ‘this doesn’t seem legal’, or ‘I don’t think you can terminate the IRS’s lien’, or any other such unsolicited legal opinions, answer this way: “I have not hired you to represent me. I do not give you permission to make a legal determination for me. If you do make a legal determination for me without my permission, you are practicing law without a license. Practicing law without a license is a commercial crime. You can also research your state code. Look for the section concerning crimes against justice. You’ll probably find two or three sections pertaining to: destroying and stealing public records; conspiracy to defeat enforcement of laws; destroying or stealing records by officer in charge.

This information, along with the penalties of course, can be made into a notice you can use when you go to get your legal instruments recorded. Suggest that the recorder just stick to his or her job, which is to record legal instruments like your UCC3s. Stand your ground and be persistent, but not abusive. If the recorder refuses you no matter what, you should proceed at once to use any and all legal options against him. Get the criminal charges filed first. Bring copies of the complaints and arrest reports along with your affidavits to the bondholder. Make sure the bondholder knows that you intend to make him criminally liable as well if he continues to carry a bond on this person. The affidavits showing wrongdoing on the part of the recorder and how you were damaged as a result, along with copies showing the man has been criminally charged and arrested for actions he took while on duty in his bonded capacity, should be very effective.

Bring a tape recorder in a pocket or purse. You can’t use the tape as evidence, but it’ll help you with details if you need to make affidavits to revoke his bond.

If you ruin his career, the guy who replaces him will have learned a lot about who’s in charge and will be much more accommodating.

Even after you get these notices terminated you may still have trouble with an employer if a notice of levy shows up. You can contact American Rights Litigators at phone # 352-383-9100 352-383-9100. They can help by writing very professional letters for you to use on any third parties, such as banks and employers. Remember, you want the resultant document, the release of lien. The same laws under “crimes against justice” apply here as well. The registrar is not allowed to withhold the resultant document from you.

Point out that their incorrect recording of the IRS668 notice has caused damage to you.

The IRS668 notice should be recorded as a notice and not a lien. When they record it in the lien book, it becomes negotiable and enforceable.

This is the root of the problem.

*ATTENTION California and possibly other states: Recent info coming out of California indicates the state code has been changed to allow the recorder to edit and/or refuse your legal instruments. Do not despair. A friend in California reports he has dug up the legal remedy. Apparently the Secretary of State now has the power/burden.

If the county recorder refuses you, you can have your legal instrument “served” on the Secretary of State. He is required to record it. This, of course will still not get your UCC3 into the county recorder’s office, where it belongs, so the following is suggested: Include a cover letter informing him that: Since your right to record legal instruments at the County of (name of county) has been compromised through legislation, you expect HIM to represent you at your county and to certify the recording of your legal instrument there as well. Mention that you want to be notified by mail of the certification of your legal instrument at said county recorder’s office.

Details on “served” are sketchy. It might just mean certified mail. Find out. Research your state code.

After you get it all done, please help someone else with theirs. Be their coach or witness. We’ve got to work together.

Serving by Publication in Pierce County-Tacoma Washington (12/8/2012)

Service by publication is the most expensive option when serving legal documents. The most common and best type of service is always personal service; if personal service is not feasible then substituted service is the next best alternative. Service by first class mail signature required can be completed in certain circumstances but most individuals will simply just not sign the envelope, and lastly we have service by publication. Serving by publication requires an order or special permission from the court where your action is filed. There are a few reasons that service by publication could be justified. For instance, if the defendant is homeless or say the target is eluding or evading service. For these reasons the court may or may not issue you an order granting service by publication. This type of service is by far the most costly and time consuming way to effectuate service on a defendant. All other options should be completely exhausted before attempting service of this type, including multiple attempts at old addresses, deposing neighbors, family members, and any coworkers to diminish all possibilities of exacting a good address. If you still have not procured a good address on the individual a Skip- Trace should be done to show good faith effort on your part to locate the opposing party. The process sought out to serve by publication varies from county to county and each local jurisdiction has its own set of rules that must be adhered to in order to satisfy the court. In most cases service by publication is handled by attorneys however if you cannot afford one you can try using pre-paid legal. They offer full service legal consultation on all legal matters for a nominal fee of 17.00 dollars a month with no annual contract. This means you can use the service for the duration of your case and cancel it at any time. Pre-paid legal services can be purchased from Legalshield.com. Trying to navigate the minutia of legal forms can be troublesome especially if you do not have working knowledge of legal documents and civil process. For this reason we recommend calling an attorney for further instructions before attempting to do this yourself. However, if you are not able to get an attorney there are some free resources that can help you along the way. Walawhelp.org has a great how to guide and instruction forms available on their site; they are also a great resource for other legal documents and forms. Keep in mind not all situations are alike so use caution when using these forms yet helpful they are not foolproof. Once you have completed your declaration for service of summons by publication and all your paperwork has been submitted to the court you will need to obtain the court order, keep in mind you will need to show detailed proof that you have no other way to effect service. Google, Wikipedia, walawhelp.org, and the pierce county law library are good resources in addition to pre-paid legal for information on execution of service by publication.

Running your ad in the newspaper!

Once you have the signed court order call your county clerk for a list of newspapers approved for publishing legal newsletters in your county see-(RCW 65.16.070). Also see the Washington state legislatures website apps.leg.wa.gov or a quick Google search for (service by publication WA) this will produce the same result. Boilerplate samples from the states website of (RCW 4.28.110) and (RCW 12.04.100) are below for reference. Most Legal notices generally are ran in the Tacoma News Tribune or The Tacoma Daily Index. The Tacoma Daily Index will run 100 words for 31.00 dollars for the first day and 27.00 for additional days, totaling 409.00 dollars for 3 weeks and 818.00 for a 6 week run. Publications usually run for 3 to 6 weeks consecutively depending on what court action you have, please consult an attorney. The newspaper will generate an affidavit of mailing at the conclusion of your run. You can reach the Tacoma News Tribune at 253-597-8742 or the Tacoma Daily Index at (253)-627-4853. Don’t forget to file the completed affidavit of publication with the court.

RCW 4.28.110 and RCW 12.04.100 (district court) samples are below for reference.

RCW 4.28.110 (Service by publication as of 12/8/2012)

Manner of publication and form of summons.

The publication shall be made in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the action is brought once a week for six consecutive weeks: PROVIDED, That publication of summons shall not be made until after the filing of the complaint, and the service of the summons shall be deemed complete at the expiration of the time prescribed for publication. The summons must be subscribed by the plaintiff or his or her attorney or attorneys. The summons shall contain the date of the first publication, and shall require the defendant or defendants upon whom service by publication is desired, to appear and answer the complaint within sixty days from the date of the first publication of the summons; and the summons for publication shall also contain a brief statement of the object of the action. The summons for publication shall be substantially as follows:

In the superior court of the State of Washington for the county of…
… , Plaintiff,

vs.

No…
… , Defendant.

The State of Washington to the said (naming the defendant or defendants to be served by publication):

You are hereby summoned to appear within sixty days after the date of the first publication of this summons, to wit, within sixty days after the… day of… , 1… , and defend the above entitled action in the above entitled court, and answer the complaint of the plaintiff… , and serve

a copy of your answer upon the undersigned attorneys for plaintiff… , at his (or their) office below stated; and in case of your failure so to do, judgment will be rendered against you according to the demand of the complaint, which has been filed with the clerk of said court. (Insert here a brief statement of the object of the action.)

… ,

Plaintiff’s Attorneys.

P.O. Address…
County…
Washington.

[2011 c 336 § 98; 1985 c 469 § 2; 1895 c 86 § 2; 1893 c 127 § 10; RRS § 233.]

Notes:

Publication of legal notices: Chapter 65.16 RCW.

RCW 12.04.100 (district court)

(Service by publication as of 12/8/2012)

Service by publication.

In case personal service cannot be had by reason of the absence of the defendant from the county in which the action is sought to be commenced, it shall be proper to publish the summons or notice with a brief statement of the object and prayer of the claim or complaint, in some newspaper of general circulation in the county wherein the action is commenced, which notice shall be published not less than once a week for three weeks prior to the time fixed for the hearing of the cause, which shall not be less than four weeks from the first publication of the notice. The notice may be substantially as follows:

The State of Washington,

| | > | |

ss.

County of…
In justice’s court,… justice.

To…
You are hereby notified that… has filed a complaint (or claim as the case may be) against you in said court which will come on to be heard at my office in… , in… county, state of Washington, on the… day of… , A.D. 19… , at the hour of… o’clock… m., and unless you appear and then and there answer, the same will be taken as confessed and the demand of the plaintiff granted. The object and demand of said claim (or complaint, as the case may be) is (here insert a brief statement).

Complaint filed… , A.D. 19…
… , J. P.

[1985 c 469 § 6; Code 1881 § 1720; 1873 p 337 § 27; RRS § 1766.]

Notes:

Legal publications: Chapter 65.16 RCW.

(RCW 65.16.010-160) – (12/8/2012)

(RCW 12.04.100) – (12/8/2012)

(RCW 4.28.100) – (12/8/2012)

(RCW 4.28.110) – (12/8/2012)

Legal Options for Motorcycle Accident Victims in LA County

Due to the many vehicular accidents in Los Angeles County involving motorcycles, questions may strike the minds of the injured victims. How can I obtain justice? What are the legal options available to recover damages for my injuries? If you are one of those who have been involved in similar scenarios, then read this article carefully.

Legal Options

There are two possible ways in order to get reimbursement for your incurred injuries. First is through the formal filing of a lawsuit against the other party who, you certainly believe, has been careless or negligent and indeed liable for the motorcycle accident. In this type of legal procedure, you will have to prove these case elements to win your fight:

  • The other driver has been neglectful in driving
  • His neglect was indeed the primary cause of the motorcycle crash
  • You have sustained injuries and/or other damages from the accident

Certainly, you also have to establish your blamelessness for the said accident. You should understand that any of your traffic violation or slight negligence might lessen your recoveries or even impede you from obtaining possible restitution for your injuries. Thus, it is always necessary for motorcycle enthusiasts and all other automobile drivers to avoid being imprudent or ignorant on roads to have better chances of being remunerated in case of accident involvement.

On the other hand, your other legal option is through engaging in a mediation process or an out of court settlement. This procedure is very much applicable in cases wherein the other party carries no insurance policy. In addition to this, many victims result in resolving the issue outside the court in order to speed up the case and avoid further complications.

In this legal exercise, both parties will discuss things and calculate the value of the damages. If the injured victim accepted the offer, the defendant will be free from any legal liabilities in the future. If both parties did not arrive in a mutual settlement, the plaintiff then may proceed to bringing the case in court.

Right to Representation

Both of the aforementioned legal options involve complicated laws and method to follow. Therefore, it is always necessary to consult a motorcycle accident attorney in LA County and have your case evaluated to ensure that you are properly guided.

Moreover, legal counsels who specialize in handling motorcycle accidents may even increase your recoveries since they have enough understanding of the lawful techniques on how to have better personal injury claim results. In fact, great majority of the motorcycle accident cases managed by credible attorney have won in courts or have gained favorable out of court settlements.

Dangerous Dog Ordinances, Stevens County, Washington – Title 12 – Straight Talk – Know Your Rights!

Reacting to a series of dog attacks and problems in recent years in the Counties, both Stevens County and Spokane County in Washington State (and nationwide) have adopted new regulations for dealing with potentially dangerous and vicious dogs. Since I am a citizen of Stevens County, I will speak to the new Title 20 ordinance adopted in December 2007 by Stevens County.

Stevens County’s new set of dangerous dog laws is designed to put the accountability on the owner and not just the animal. At this date, Stevens County does not have any designated animal control authority other than the Stevens County Sheriff. Under its new Title 20 ordinance, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office now has more authority to find that a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous and impose corrective actions to protect the public. Owners are given further opportunity to appeal the Stevens County Sheriff’s designation to the courts.

By definition under the newly adopted Title 20, a “potentially dangerous” dog is one that has a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to cause an unprovoked attack or to cause injury or otherwise threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals. A “dangerous dog” has caused unprovoked severe injury to a human being, or has killed a domestic animal while off the owner or keeper’s property, or has previously been found “potentially dangerous” and aggressively attacks again or endangers safety. Both the “potentially dangerous” dog and “dangerous dog” designations under the Stevens County, Washington Title 20, carry similar consequences for owners and their dog(s). Stevens County has imposed more restrictive measures under the “potentially dangerous” dog designation than under current Washington State law.

If a dog is found to be “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous”, the owner must register the dogs within 14 days of the County Sheriff’s determination, and the registration will only be accepted if the owner agrees to placement of an identifying microchip inserted in the animal, payment of the first registration fee and an annual registration fee, and to keep the dog enclosed indoors or in a proper enclosure. Proper enclosure is defined under Title 20 as a kennel that contains an enclosed top as well as sides. If the dog is allowed outside the enclosure, it must be muzzled and restrained with a 3-foot chain with a 300 lb. tensile strength. An owner cannot sell or transfer ownership, custody or residence of the dog without notifying the County Sheriff and notifying the new owner of the dog’s record with an acknowledgment signed by the new owner of the terms and conditions of his maintenance while in Stevens County, Washington. In extreme cases, presumably the County Sheriff as the animal control officer has the authority to decide if the dog must be destroyed. While I can understand the adoption of Title 20 and its ordinances and the “dangerous dog” designation and the purpose and merit behind its adoption, the “potentially dangerous dog” designation appears to be nearly impossible to regulate and this particular designation is ripe for abuse.

I am relatively certain many of us have experienced a difficult neighbor a time or two. For whatever reason, certain individuals seem to have nothing better to do than complain about their neighbors’ pets, the broken down automobile, hobbies, or anything else that may annoy them at any given time. In fact for some people, they seem to make complaining their hobby. In rural Stevens County, Washington and other rural areas that are moving rapidly toward development, there will always be conflicts between country neighbors with differing views on a rural lifestyle. The Title 20 “potentially dangerous” dog designation provides these people with just one more avenue for conflict and additional ammunition for harassment. An additional danger for citizens is that the entire hearing process as applied through the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, under both designations, appears to be fundamentally flawed and unconstitutional.

I have spoken to several residents in the County where harassment by a nuisance neighbor, through Title 20, appears to have occurred to their detriment. The new Stevens County, Washington Title 20 “potentially dangerous dog” designation seems to make it particularly easy for a nuisance neighbor to harass another neighbor. Since the recent adoption of Title 20 in December 2007, I have discovered that several citizens have been struggling to defend against false and/or frivolous allegations about their companion dogs. One citizen found herself the target of a nuisance allegation by a problem neighbor and the Stevens County Sheriff concerning her “potentially dangerous” dogs, after her complaining neighbor’s dog pulled her show dog through her own fence and killed it. Apparently a complaint was lodged by the nuisance neighbor against the deceased show dog as a preemptive strike. How many Stevens County citizens have simply forfeited their right to ownership of a companion dog because of nuisance allegations they could not afford to defend and unconstitutional actions being taken by Stevens County public officials? All a nuisance neighbor may now have to do is claim that a dog barked at them, and the dog’s owner may be hit with a predetermined “potentially dangerous” dog designation, fees, an embarrassing public hearing and media coverage, and other severe restrictions on their dog by the Stevens County Sheriff.

I suppose the best part of the new Title 20 ordinance is the appeal process since a dog is already predetermined by the Stevens County Sheriff to either be “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous” prior to a hearing. However, many poor people do not have the resources to legally fight back against an initial and possibly frivolous determination by the Stevens County Sheriff in advance of a public hearing. Attorney fees, at a rate of $200 per hour to defend against this type of nuisance action, may be in the range of $2,000 – $40,000+.

There are other potential problems in carrying out the new Stevens County Title 20 ordinances. The problems I reference below, as well as others I have not highlighted in this article, have already emerged in other states and Washington State counties — King and Spokane County, Washington, for example. The courts in King County and Spokane County have recently ruled upon the controversial dangerous dog ordinances and procedures. In King County, for example, in the recent dangerous dog case of Mansour v. King County tried by animal law attorney Adam Karp, where Mansour was found to have been denied due process, the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled: “Due process essentially requires the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner”. . . “An adequate standard of proof is a mandatory safeguard.” ” The standard of proof instructs the fact finder “concerning the degree of confidence our society thinks he should have in the correctness of the factual conclusions” . . .. While the Stevens County Sheriff continues to sit as the investigating official, the judge and jury in these potentially dangerous and dangerous dog cases, how much confidence can the public place in any factual conclusion made by the Sheriff’s Office?

In Spokane County in a “potentially dangerous dog” case, Judge Austin of the Spokane County Superior Court ruled that Spokane’s “dangerous dog” ordinance is unconstitutional because it denies pet owners the right of due process, and that as a matter of law the administrative procedures used in the City of Spokane regarding “dangerous dog” determinations and appeals from those rulings violate citizens’ due process rights. In their current system, dogs tagged as “dangerous” by the city and its contractor, SpokAnimal, are deemed to be just that unless the owner can prove otherwise — flying in the face of the notion of presumed innocence. The judge ruled that the City violated (in this case) Patty Schoendorf’s rights by taking her property — her dogs –and intended to destroy them after a hearing where she was not allowed to cross-examine or impeach witnesses involved in the dog’s impoundment. She also wasn’t given access to documents in the City’s “dangerous dog” file, and the opportunity to rebut those allegations — another denial of due process guaranteed by the Constitution. The judge not only ordered Spokanimal to immediately release the dogs, he also ordered the City of Spokane to pay legal bills for a team of attorneys – Robert Caruso, Richard Lee and Cheryl Mitchell, animal law attorneys.

While I would like to say that I trust the Sheriff’s Animal Control Officers to ensure that there is a real danger to the public, the truth (and therein the problem) is that in Stevens County there is currently no separation of powers from the onset of the initial investigation, the Sheriff’s determination of “potentially dangerous dog”, and finally to the Sheriff’s ruling following a public hearing that a dog is “potentially dangerous”. The Stevens County Animal Control Authority (the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office) sits as the investigator, judge and jury. Where is our guaranteed system of checks and balances in this process? The following is generally the procedure used under the Stevens County “potentially dangerous” dog designation:

(1) When a complainant calls to make a report, he makes it to the Stevens County
Sheriff’s Office, the designated animal control authority in Stevens County;

(2) A Stevens County Sheriff’s Officer may be dispatched to the scene to presumably thoroughly investigate the dog incident and take an incident report. A thorough and complete investigation may or may not occur, and in fact the dog’s owner may not even be allowed to tell their side of the story to the Officer or see the complaint, the results of the investigation, and may not even be advised of the name of the complainant by the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s goal in these cases appears to be to hold back all relevant documents and evidence entirely from the accused pet owner until a day or two before the hearing, stating that the procedure is still in the “investigational stage”– similar to a criminal proceeding. The pet owner has no time to prepare a defense;

(3) After the Sheriff takes an incident report from the complainant, the owner of the alleged offending dog(s) is then promptly advised by a Stevens County Sheriff’s Officer that he/she must submit to photographing of his/her dog(s), prior to the dog owner receiving any kind of a notice or citation from the Stevens County Animal Control Authority (the Sheriff). Notice of the alleged incident may simply be a Sheriff’s Officer arriving on the doorstep or at your gate, and advising you that he is required to take photographs of your dogs as “part of the hearing process”. At this point, you may not even have notice of any hearing. The photographing process may or may not involve a Stevens County Sheriff’s Officer demanding entrance onto your private property or requesting entrance into your home, for the stated purpose of photographing your dog(s).

Citizens, please be aware that a dog is designated as “personal property” in the State of Washington and other states. The Washington State Constitution and U.S. Constitution protect individuals against unlawful searches and seizures concerning your personal property.

The simple act of entering onto private property for the purpose of taking photographs of personal property, without the direct or implied consent of the property owner and without a search warrant, is unlawful. Generally speaking, warrants are signed by judges or commissioners in criminal matters. At this point, this procedure is still considered a civil or administrative matter. There appears to be something inherently wrong with this process from the outset. (The rule that I have personally imposed is not to let anyone onto my property without my express invitation (or a warrant). My directive to this effect seems to work for most people.)

Of course, there are “exigent circumstances” exceptions under the law to the warrant requirement. Exigent circumstances generally arise when a law enforcement officer may have reasonable ground to believe that there is an immediate need to protect his life, the life of others, their property, or that of others, the search is not motivated by an intent to arrest and seize evidence, and there is some reasonable basis to associate an emergency with the area or place to be searched. None of these exigent circumstances is likely to exist in a Title 20 dangerous or potentially dangerous dog investigation which would allow a public official to trespass for the purpose of photographing dogs.

4) The owner of the alleged offending dog will then receive a certified letter or personal service by the Stevens County Sheriff’, notifying the dog’s owner that their dog has already been deemed a “potentially dangerous” dog or “dangerous dog” under their new Title 20 ordinance. The owner’s dog is deemed “guilty” before tried, based generally only upon a report made by a complainant. That complainant could be made by anyone with “axe to grind”. The dog is declared guilty in advance of a public hearing before the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department. The investigating agency (the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office) then amazingly plays the role of the judge and jury at this public hearing where the dog’s owner is required to prove that his/her dog is not dangerous, or potentially dangerous. Please be aware that you (as the accused) are not required to prove anything. The burden of proof falls upon your accusers to make their case, and not you. Public testimony will be taken by the Sheriff, and you will receive a subsequent notice of his final ruling. This entire process usurps constitutional protections afforded each citizen under Washington State and U.S. Constitutions. Any hearing in a “potentially dangerous dog” or “dangerous dog” case should be set before an impartial judge or hearing officer. The Sheriff cannot rule on issues as a matter of law.

It is my understanding and belief that any public hearing conducted by a public official(s) in Washington State must follow the law and procedures under either the Washington State Open Meetings Act or Administrative Procedures Act. Since a dangerous dog hearing does not really meet the criteria under the Open Meetings Act, the hearing process should follow the Washington State Administrative Procedures Act. If you are not familiar with this Act, familiarize yourself with it and your rights under this Act. This law can be found in the public library under 34.05 RCW (Revised Code of Washington). Insist that any dangerous dog hearing you may be a party to comply with these lawful procedures.

Citizens, please take heed! The Stevens County Title 20 dangerous dog ordinances are dangerous to you in that they can potentially escalate into a criminal matter if you do not comply with the severe restrictions imposed on your dog, or if the dog is again the subject of a complaint. You must contest the letter/notice that you receive from the Stevens County, Washington Sheriff’s Office and promptly return it via Certified US Mail or Delivery Confirmation. Also enclose your own letter stating you contest your dog’s predetermined designation by the Sheriff, and that you demand a lawful hearing before a bona fide hearing officer conducted under the Washington State Administrative Procedures Act. If you do not sign and return the Notice from the County Sheriff, the “potentially dangerous dog” designation is automatically applied by the Sheriff to your dog through your inaction.

Once you have been deemed to own a “potentially dangerous” dog or “dangerous” dog, all regulations, restrictions, fees and other penalties under the new ordinances apply to you and your dog. The Title 20 regulations, restrictions, fees and other penalties have severe consequences for both you and your dog. If you do not comply with these new regulations following the final determination of your “potentially dangerous dog” or “dangerous dog”, then you possibly may be issued a criminal citation. Potentially you may be thrust into the position of defending yourself as a criminal. Moreover, your homeowner’s insurance may be cancelled or be prohibitively expensive in the future, and you may be forced to carry an expensive bond if you intend to keep your dog in the County.

The Title 20 dangerous dog ordinances can be dangerous to your health and welfare and your dog’s health and welfare, particularly if you do not exercise your constitutional rights. I would highly recommend hiring an attorney, if you can afford one. Hire someone who specializes in animal law, for instance one of the attorneys mentioned in this article. If you cannot afford one and are low income, call CLEAR at their toll free number in Washington State to see if you can qualify for free legal assistance. Other possible sources of legal assistance are the Gonzaga Law School, or the Washington State Bar Association who may have a referral to a pro bono (free) attorney.

Please exercise your civil and constitutional rights and familiarize yourselves with this new set of laws under Stevens County, Washington – Title 20. Please do not allow your valuable rights to be trampled upon by public officials or you may lose them. Do not allow yourself to become their victim.

Last but not least, please recognize and be aware that you do not have to allow anyone onto your private property, in most cases, without a warrant. It surprises me that many citizens do not know this. If there is any doubt in your mind, please respectfully ask the person requesting permission to enter onto your private property “do you have a warrant?” Express to them that without a signed warrant, that person does not have your consent to enter onto your private property. This rule generally applies to most everyone, public officials included, unless they have an implied right to enter such as a meter reader. With respect to your private property rights, generally speaking, what applies to any other private citizen who wants entrance to your property applies to public officials as well. Post your gates and property with “No Trespassing” and “Beware of Dog” signs to protect yourself — approximately every 50 feet. Also fence your property with at least a 5-6 foot fence if you own a dog, for additional protection. Electrify your fence, if necessary, if you are in a rural area. Fence chargers, including solar fence chargers, can be purchased for $30 and up and are quite effective as a deterrent to entrance and exit by animals.

I recognize that this article may not be “politically correct” in this climate as this is a sensitive issue right now. I am aware that it may anger those who are truly at risk or who have been victims of genuinely dangerous dogs. I agree that genuinely dangerous dogs are a threat to public safety. However, I submit that while the intent behind Title 20 and other dangerous dog laws is good and I agree with its intent, the process to apply and regulate under these laws has been poorly thought out and implemented in general by Stevens County, Washington and other counties around Washington State (and our nation) in trying to protect the public safety. In trying to protect the public health and safety, individual constitutional rights, due process, and privacy cannot be ignored. If you do not exercise your rights, you will forfeit those valuable rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. and Washington State constitutions. You also may be forced to relinquish your beloved family pet, euthanize it, move out of the County, or live with severe restrictions on the animal and very expensive insurance.