Ron mason had his day in court today.
He sued the City in Small Claims court for the City the seizing and killing of his cats, confiscating his cages and cat medications and not having them returned.
The court Commissioner, Martin Green, found for the City on everything:
1. He said the cats were contraband because the law allowed him having only three cats, and as such they can be confiscated and killed.
2. The cages were used in conjunction with the contraband cats were therefore also contraband and need not be returned without a court order which would require Mason to hire an attorney---according to Green. He actually said, "Get a lawyer."
3. Since Mason did not have the 50 cats anymore, the medications seized were not needed, therefore the City had no reason to reimburse Mason. Green ignored Mason's statement he still had three cats for which the cages and medication could be used.
Green also specifically likened the cages to a gun used in a felony. He said it was a hyperbole, but repeated it six times, likening Mason to being a felon and the cages a gun.
He said this was hyperbole, but repeated this example 6 times.
Let's get one thing straight. The District Attorney never charged Mason with a felony. The City Attorney never charged Mason with any crime, not even the kennel law, MC 53.50. Therefore, how can the cats and cages be contraband?
I asked "Commissioner Green, "Does that mean that anyone who has more than three cats is at risk to be raided, have all their cats and cages, food, vet documents, seized and the cats killed?"
His response was, "Yes, to the fullest extent of the law."
The police investigator representing the City, of course, didn't have a copy of the warrants with him. Ron did. Green said nothing, except after reading it, he recognized the judge and said she was a good judge, therefore the warrants were in order--that is, he covered the City for the weakness of the warrants.
Green asked the City rep (a police investigator) if there was an accounting of all the seized items. The rep said when anything was seized, a complete list was given to the person arrested, but he did not produce a copy of the list, nor did the Commissioner ask for one.
Ron offered a copy of the list actually sent to him by the police department three days after the raid, and that list never mentioned the 51 seized cats as required by CA Penal Code, nor did it mention the cages.
Green said, "Why do you want me to read that?"
Over and over Commissioner asked Mason, "Why are you here? What did the City do wrong?"
Then he found for the City on everything.
So be afraid, be very, very afraid. The checks and balances on government abuse of power are gone in LA when it comes to animals.
Wow!! So feral cats are considered contraband if you feed and care for them? What's next? They gonna start cracking down on bird-ladies feeding and caring for pigeons?
The whole scene was surreal. There were four of us there including Ron.
Afterwards we all debriefed to make sure what we heard was what we heard.
The outline I provided above was the most accurate summary we could provide.
Piss off the comissioner much?
I hope you had the common sense to keep your mouth shut.
Ed,Thanks for the information about Mr. Mason. It is truly a sad situation for Ron Mason.
Unfortunately, unless there is an appeal right, he has no recourse, except if he has the right to file a civil suit for personal damages and loss of property.
If I were an attorney, I would gladly assist him. This is totally wrong that he did not have his personal property returned.
I do not believe that cats should be considered contraband, when they are personal property and no legal action was taken to declare them as such. In this regard, Commissioner Green's use of the word "contraband" was inconsistent with normal usage in the law, and thus his ruling is without precedence or legal standing. What a sham!
If you want to make your feelings known about this Court Commissioner and his sketchy understanding of the law, his obvious lack of familiarity with the facts of the case (you can't compare compare Mason's cages to the gun of a felon when Mason was cleared of all charges a year ago, also cages don't imply cat-ownership, in fact they imply the opposite), as well as his lack of interest in ensuring citizens' rights are protected please write a letter to:
Charles McCoy, Assistant Presiding Judge
111 N. Hill St., Room 204
Los Angeles, CA 90012
This man clearly feels citizens of Los Angeles are not entitled to the protections afforded them in the Constitution, and he apparently feels that no one is entitled to justice in the Small Claims Court, otherwise he wouldn't have demanded Mason have an attorney, which you don't have in Small Claims, nor would he have repeatedly asked why Ron was there, as if he didn't have a right to have his case heard. He's incompetent and arrogant and needs to go.
Sidebar: when is some well-funded group or animal-loving attorney going to look at this case and say, "Enough!"? How badly and repeatedly does a rescuer have to have his rights trampled by this city before someone who has the resources stands up for him and all the other people who are only trying to care for animals (and in Ron's case, doing a good job).
It could be you next. If you do and say nothing it WILL be you next.
The judge was Martin E. Green
Chatsworth courthouse, room F43.
North Valley District
9425 Penfield Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Judge/Commissioner: Martin E. Green
Clerk: Milo Brown
Since Green brought up the subject of guns, lets say I have a large collection of both legal and illegal firearms stored in beautiful handcrafted American cherry hardwood display cases and one day the city came in and seized all my firearms and display cases.
By Green's twisted logic:
1. The legal firearms I owned would be returned to me but the illegal ones would not since they would be considered "contraband".
2. The display cases were used in conjunction with the contraband firearms so they are also contraband and therefore, they would not need to be returned (not without a court order).
3. And since I no longer have my illegal firearms, the miscellaneous tools and cleaning supplies I stored in the display case drawers which were seized along with the display cases would no longer be needed so the City would have no reason to return them or reimburse me.
Is that about right?
You nailed it Brad.
It's called finding every conceivable reason to support the actions of the police/ACTF/City because you know the judge who signed the search and seizure warrants, even though, as he remarked, the warrants were only 1 page long instead of the usual 8-9 with specific content concerning what they were looking for. The warrant basically said they could seize anything, and they did. The warrants only said they suspected a felony was taking place or would be taking place.
So, in your scenario, they might seize anything and somehow relate it to the illegal guns, or anything possibly related to any conceivanle crime.
Anonymous and Boks=Death, thanks for the snail mail addresses. Mail is coming from TX forthwith. Don't know how much good it will be coming from TX, but...
Ed, have you contacted Winograd about this?
Yes, no response yet. I usually do not get one from him from a mass email. I will address a specific one to him later.
Ed, this is a long post so please feel free to edit (so long as my main points remain) - thanks.
I'm aghast after reading the result of Ron Mason's (latest? first?) day in court. The implications of this travesty are immense, and I hope everyone reading this column starts doing things differently as of today.
1. Did Ron have access to an attorney for any advice? Our family joined Pre-Paid Legal years ago (no, I do not sell it) and that was a God-send for figuring out what to do when we couldn't afford an attorney. Just a suggestion. If, God forbid, someone comes to your door with or without a warrant, a lawyer is available 24/7 for an immediate consult.
2. Ron may be able to file a court order himself for return of the cages, meds, etc. if he wants to take this further. Dunno, but I think it just has to be done correctly. I’d also recommend going to FindLaw.com, creating an account, then researching some of the supreme court cases about animal and property law for further insight. I am NOT an attorney, but this site is available to anyone who logs on. Knowledge is power.
3. Hopefully this has already been done: Ron should report this Commissioner, the judge, and everyone else involved to the CA Attorney General, the US Attorney General, the FBI and every other applicable federal agency he can think of. Ask for a review of what's happening in Los Angeles.
4. I'd also check into suing the Commissioner for impugning Ron's reputation by clearly insinuating he was a felon - six times! And of course, the Judge who issued the wide-open search warrant needs to be investigated for her part in this whole fiasco. Maybe she too can be sued; again, dunno.
FWIW, here’s my take on this whole insanity: Ron’s arrest and the destruction of these animals was a hate crime against feral cat caretakers. And when it comes down to the nitty gritty, this was a flat-out hate crime against pet owners. I've watched what's going on in Los Angeles for decades. I grew up there. I moved because it was clear this was where things were heading, years ago.
Face it. The Commissioner and the City will get away this and other hate crimes against animal owners unless hundreds and probably thousands of people take action. Why will that probably not happen, and why has it come to this? Because the animal lovers of the city are divided against each other.
Hate crimes are federal offences. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines a hate crime as “any of various crimes (as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (as one based on color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation).” A creed is defined by the same dictionary as “1: a brief authoritative formula of religious belief 2: a set of fundamental beliefs ; also : a guiding principle.”
The L.A. City Commissioner and others involved in this case are clearly, undeniably hostile towards Ron, who repeatedly asked L.A. for help and who obviously BELIEVES TNR is better than killing feral cats by dumping them in L.A. shelters.
Whenever we allow ourselves to be divided into camps - Us vs. Them - we allow the enemy, whomever that is, to WIN. Frankly, Los Angeles' crazy animal laws and anti-pet enforcement came into being because over decades, animal lovers bought into the animal rights mantra - and now it's biting all of California and the nation right on the butt.
Do Los Angelino feral cat caretakers and animal rescuers want more allies against this idiocy, against enforcement of these hate-filled laws? Do people reading this blog want change? Decide to give up hate, and decide to be all-inclusive.
Right now, it's TNR advocates vs animal rescuers vs dog & cat show breeders (who do rescue as well, and have for decades) vs dog & cat pet breeders. Yet, every last one of these groups has become the subject of hate crimes against animal ownership due to the slow infiltration of the animal rights movement into all of society.
What's the ultimate goal of PeTA? We all know it, if we do our research: no more human contact with animals, period.
What's the ultimate goal of H$U$? We all know it, if we do our research: mass the largest monetary war chest in the nation of any animal-oriented group - then legislate away all human contact with animals, period.
By the way, did you know that anyone can make a citizen's arrest if even a police officer comes on their property without a valid search warrant? By law, one can then ask another police officer - any police officer - to arrest the miscreant. If they refuse, every citizen in the US is allowed to take it up the chain of command until someone makes that arrest... and the arrest of every officer who refused to do their duty by the citizen.
Ron Mason, please get some legal advice and if possible, don't let this hate crime go without getting full legal compensation. I know it’s tough emotionally and financially, and this may not be an option for that reason. Los Angeles animal lovers, please: get behind Ron and come together to stop the hate crimes being perpetrated against other Angelinos under color of law. Stop fighting other animal lovers and recognize that hate is counterproductive and hurts everyone.
I believe this horrific situation can be the catalyst for change that helps every animal and every pet owner in the City. Please prove me right.
We made every effort to find an attorney for Mason. No attorney would take it pro bono saying there was not enough money involved.
Paid attorney's requested up to $20,000 up front.
The statute of limitations are now past anyway.
This blog as well as all others related to reform of LA and County Animal Services has resulted in VERY little action.
The animal community appears not willing to join togehter for any purpose.
That is, we are all dead ducks.
A lot of this is due to fear of the City, police, the ACTF and LAAS.
If you can motivate them, please do. I have had no success.
I'm going to be collecting money for my lawsuits. I hope I can collect enough for a decent lawyer. We also want to form an organization to protect animal owners; in fact I got the idea on this blog. Suing without a lawyer does little good IMHO other than maybe give you a good feeling that you tried to stand up for yourself. Unfortunately, I have found that even intelligent folks are unable to navigate the legal system successfully without one in most cases.
This blog as well as all others related to reform of LA and County Animal Services has resulted in VERY little action. A lot of this is due to fear of the City, police, the ACTF and LAAS.
- - that says a lot, and that's why I suggested the FBI and other federal contacts(if that hasn't already been done). Obviously L.A.'s citizens either don't know or don't care enough to change the status quo.
If you can motivate them, please do. I have had no success.
- - at least you're trying, Ed. A lot of people read your blog and it's lighting a few fires under people across the country. Maybe it has to work there before people are brave enough to bring it back here. Dunno, but thanks for reporting.
I have 2 suggestions:
1. Appeal. With this you get a real judge. If possible have this case transferred to Central District where they have (some) real judges.
2. If he loses the Appeal, Appeal to the Court of Appeals.
In order to get a court order for return of property, you have to win a claim (lawsuit). Lawsuits are not impossible to win on your own. I know this.
The statute of limitations for personal injury is 2 years.
The statute of limitations for damage to personal property is 3 years. I'll check that in a minute.
This Commissioner is full of cat shit.
The C.A. and the D.A. did not prosecute because they knew the case was doomed, either because of a bad warrant or bad seizure.
I'll do some research. He must appeal which is $75 unless he files for a fee waiver.
The small claims paperwork said he had no right to appeal. Of course he didn't sign that part we noticed afterward so maybe he can appeal.
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