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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Did Missouri Sheriff Jim Arnott commit a federal crime when he ordered my wife's false arrest and imprisonment, which was wildly contrary to law?


Greene County, Missouri, Sheriff Jim Arnott
(From KSPR)
Outrage about police misconduct has grown this summer to the point that some members of the public have chosen to fight violence with violence -- leading to the assassinations of eight officers, in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Do we support such action? No. Do we understand how people can become so disturbed by police abuse that they choose to take matters into their own hands? Yes.

That's because my wife, Carol, and I have come face to face with police brutality -- twice. And we've seen how officers tend to lie when confronted with the need to cover for their actions. Is it infuriating to witness such behavior from "public servants" who are sworn to "serve and protect"? It sure as heck is.

Consider our unlawful eviction last September 9 in Springfield, Missouri. Our coverage of that horrifying event has focused largely on my wife's broken arm. And that is understandable because the injury was severe (see X-ray below), it was the result of unmistakable police brutality, and it was caused by Missouri officers who had no lawful grounds that day for being on the property we were renting. On top of that, it involved officers bursting into our home, with six to eight weapons (assault rifles and handguns) coming at us from all directions.

But the actions that led to Carol's broken arm might not have been the most outrageous we witnessed that day. In fact, there is little doubt we saw officers commit federal crimes.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott was on the scene, standing about five feet away when at least three of his deputies surrounded and brutalized Carol, slamming her to the ground, butt first, with frightful force -- the kind that can cause concussions, After watching his officers injure a citizen by yanking viciously on her arms, Arnott's immediate instinct was to lie.

He pointed at Carol and said, "She assaulted a police officer." I saw the same events from about 15 feet away, and if I had not been so concerned about Carol's well-being, might have let out a guffaw when I heard Arnott's words. As it was, I did manage to say, "You've got to be kidding."

No, he wasn't kidding, as became clear when he ordered Carol handcuffed, placed in the back of a squad car, and driven to the Greene County Jail. (Imagine how all of that felt when the humerus, the large bone in your upper arm, has been snapped in two--with multiple pieces so pulverized that trauma surgeons later could only clean them out because they were of no use in the repair process.)

When you read Missouri law on "assault of a law-enforcement officer," you realize that Arnott is more than just a liar--he's also a con man, an abuser (of both Carol and the public trust), and likely a criminal.

Who else probably is a criminal in this scenario? That would be the deputy--whose name remains unknown for now--who appeared to do most of the damage to Carol's arm.

He and Arnott both apparently violated 18 U.S. Code 242 (Deprivation of rights under color of law), which holds:

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both. . . .

In other words, both Arnott and his deputy could face up to one year in prison. And given the bodily injury that Carol suffered, plus the dangerous weapons used in unlawfully forcing us from our home, one or both of them could face up to 10 years in prison.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm,
before surgical repair.
How serious could this get for the Greene County Sheriff's Office? We've already written about a 2012 case in Georgia, styled United States v. House 684 F. 3d 1173 (11th Cir., 2012), where an officer of the Federal Protective Service was convicted on 12 counts of violating Sec. 242 by seizing drivers via unlawful traffic stops. The officer, Stephen G. House, was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment for each count, to be served concurrently, followed by three years of supervised release for each count, to be served concurrently. The district court also ordered House to pay a fine of $10,000. Most of House's convictions were upheld on appeal.

Here is a key finding from the House case:

With regard to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment as to traffic stops, the district court instructed the jury that a traffic stop conducted by a law enforcement officer is constitutional only if the officer has both authority or jurisdiction and a sufficient legal basis for the stop.

House involved unlawful seizures, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, via traffic stops. Our eviction involved the unlawful seizure of a person, my wife Carol. That also invokes the Fourth Amendment, so the principle announced in House also was present when Sheriff Jim Arnott ordered Carol arrested and imprisoned. This is made clear in the House ruling:

"[A] person is `seized' ... when, by means of physical force or a show of authority, his freedom of movement is restrained" such that, "in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave." United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553-54, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 1877, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980). A seizure is effected by force "when there is a governmental termination of freedom of movement through means intentionally applied[,]" such as where a law enforcement officer pulls his vehicle "alongside [a] fleeing car and sideswipe[s] it, producing [a] crash" regardless of whether the officer intends "to give the oncoming driver the option of a voluntary stop" or "to produce a collision." Brower v. County of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 597-99, 109 S.Ct. 1378, 1381-82, 103 L.Ed.2d 628 (1989). A seizure by means of show of authority requires both a show of authority and submission to that authority. California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 628-29, 111 S.Ct. 1547, 1551-52, 113 L.Ed.2d 690 (1991). That is, a government officer effects a seizure by means of a show of authority where "the officer's words and actions would have conveyed ... to a reasonable person" that "he was being ordered to restrict his movement," and those words and actions actually "produce his stop." Id. Certain "circumstances ... might indicate a seizure, even where the person did not attempt to leave," including "the display of a weapon by an officer ... or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's request might be compelled." Mendenhall, 446 U.S. at 554, 100 S.Ct. at 1877. An arrest is the "quintessential" example of a seizure of the person. Hodari D., 499 U.S. at 624, 111 S.Ct. at 1550.

Did Sheriff Jim Arnott order that Carol Shuler be seized? There is no question about it, under the law. Did Arnott have sufficient legal basis for making that order? Not even close. Did he commit a federal crime? Absolutely. Is it any wonder citizens are fed up with police brutality, and the lies that inevitably follow as cops try to avoid accountability at all costs? No, it isn't.


(To be continued)

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would love to see you and Carol take this ass hat down. What a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

You mean cops don't just beat up on blacks?

legalschnauzer said...

No, they don't, @9:26, and we are living proof of that. I think it's clear that blacks take a disproportionate share of police abuse, I think racism is rampant in law-enforcement agencies, and I support what "Black Lives Matter" is trying to do. But if you are white, and someone in power wants you roughed up, cops are happy to do it.

A lot of police brutality is about racism, but a lot of it is due to good, old-fashioned corruption.

Anonymous said...

Tell me again why the sheriff deputies had no lawful grounds to evict you that day?

legalschnauzer said...

A judge had granted an order of eviction -- her ruling was incorrect under the law, but that's another story -- and we had 10 days to file a notice of appeal. We timely filed an appeal, paid the fee of $75, and that automatically puts a stay on execution of the eviction, under Missouri law. Attorneys for all parties were notified of the notice of appeal and automatic stay, so there was no excuse with the deputies and landlord Trent Cowherd going ahead with the eviction.

You can go to the following URL (https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/base/welcome.do), do a litigant search for my name and go to Trent Cowherd v. Roger Shuler. All case info is there, including the notice of appeal and our payment of fees.

Here is the URL to a post about the relevant law: http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2015/12/events-leading-to-my-wifes-broken-arm.html

Steve said...

@9.32 if you go back to '.. it was caused by Missouri officers who had no lawful grounds that day for being on the property we were renting.'... in the above blog it links directly to an earlier posting that explains exactly why the eviction was unlawful and the police were aiding and abetting an unlawful act.

Anonymous said...

Why have an appeals process if cops and landlords are allowed to move forward with the trial court's finding, whether it's lawful or not?

legalschnauzer said...

Excellent point, @10:15. In essence, we were deprived of our right to have an appeal heard. That's a deprivation of our due process and equal protection rights, as found under 14th Amendment. Pretty important stuff, or at least it's supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't you pursuing this civil rights violation via the Dept of Justice in DC?

legalschnauzer said...

We will pursue it, either via DOJ or via our own civil-rights complaint. I'm talking with a number of attorneys now about that very issue. Our civil rights also were horribly violated in Alabama, and because of the time factor, that is the priority now. But the Missouri sheriff and his thugs will be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. We as Americans cannot sit idly by while anyone's rights are so blatantly violated. I truly hope you push this as far as it can be pushed.

Anonymous said...

In reading the documents on the Missouri courts site that you linked to, It makes me want to know about the procedures that are in use there and whether or not that created an uncertainty(not sure if that is the right term) on when events could occur.

I saw where you filled the appeal with the circuit court on 9/8/2015 and then on 9/9/2015, the appeal was filed with the appellate court (which was later dismissed on 12/11/2015). I am curious upon which court's filing, would stop further legal actions(once again, not sure if the terminology is correct).

Then when looking at the main case, I saw where Judgment Entered is listed as 8/31/2015, but when I clicked on the link, the Judgment has the date as 8/27/2015 and that is the date in the document as well as the date by the judge's signature. It is stamped as filed on 8/31/2015. Which makes me wonder if some of the parties involved saw the 10 day clock starting on the 27th. Also, the docket lists that the Notice to Vacate Executed as occurring on 8/28/2015.

Was there a reason why you did not file your appeal earlier than the 8th?

That all said, based on your accounts, the way this eviction was handled was way out of line.

legalschnauzer said...

All good questions, @12:39, and I have the answers:

(1) The key, under Missouri law, is when you file the notice of appeal. And you file that with the circuit court. That's what we did on 9/8, and filing a notice of appeal puts an automatic stay on execution of the eviction.

(2) The judgment is dated 8/27/15 because that was the date of our hearing. But under Missouri law, the key is when it is filed -- and as you note, it's stamped as filed on 8/31/15. We had a 10-day window from that date to file a notice of appeal, and that's what we did, on 9/8/15. By law, nothing can be done re: execution during that 10-day window. The 10-day window ended on 9/10/15, so we filed two days early.

(3) The Notice to Vacate is a document the court gives to the landlord, based on the judge's ruling. But that was stayed, by law, when we filed our notice of appeal.

(4) We filed the notice of appeal on 9/8 because we knew our 10-day window was from 8/31 to 9/10. We filed it two days ahead of time. I knew the law on all of this before we had the hearing on 8/27. But Missouri courts were (and are) new to me, and it took some time to figure out how to file the notice of appeal, who to file it with, what form of payment they would accept, etc. Also, we had to figure out how to come up with the $75, which was a lot of money for us then, and now.

Bottom line: There was no confusion about the notice of appeal or when it was due -- and that we timely filed it and paid for it properly. My own brother was one of the opposing attorneys, and neither he nor anyone else from the other side ever has argued that our Notice of Appeal was late, etc. My brother's story was that it wasn't his eviction, so he couldn't stop it, but I don't buy that for one second.

If you are interested in chapter and verse on the relevant law, you should find it at the following post: http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2015/12/events-leading-to-my-wifes-broken-arm.html

Anonymous said...

LS: Thought you would find this occurrence interesting...

http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/election/article93405572.html

...the Democrat primary winner is Chris Koster, featured in the Eric Lipton expose of Attorneys General from a couple of years ago and linked in one of your comments.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html?_r=0

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, thanks for sharing, @3:12. I believe Chris Koster of Missouri and Pam Bondi of Florida were two AGs mentioned a lot in that story. I believe Koster now is running for governor of Missouri. Jason Kander, the current Sec. of State, is running for U.S. Senate. Koster and Kander both are Democrats, but I hear they are shaky characters. The Missouri political scene is horrible, almost as bad as Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear about Congressman Billy Long and the blogger known as Bungalow Bill?


http://www.pitch.com/news/article/20579807/blogger-clay-bowler-hates-congressman-billy-long-gets-visit-from-fbi

More links here: https://duanegraham.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/fbi-visits-local-blogger-why/

legalschnauzer said...

I know about Billy Long, but I had not heard about the blogger episode. Need to check out your links. I assume someone thought the blogger was a threat to Rep. Long? Thanks for sharing.

Didn't Billy Long used to be an auctioneer?

Anonymous said...

I think it's this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhV77sRyX14

Anonymous said...

You may recognize the name of the Greene County Missouri Sheriff mentioned in some of those Billy Long links.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @8:06, that is THE Billy Long in the free-trade video.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @8:17, noticed Arnott's name all over the Billy Long stories. And that's strange because the blogger in question lives in Christian County, not Greene County -- where Arnott is sheriff. Seems Arnott was acting outside of his jurisdiction. I'm guessing Arnott drove this whole silly train. The FBI dude probably was thinking, "I knew I should have gone to medical school."

As you can see, Arnott has a habit of showing up on property where he does not legally belong.

Anonymous said...

http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/politics/2016/08/04/springfield-city-prosecutor-says-sheriff-trying-bully-him-gag-order/87998692/
"An assistant prosecutor for the city of Springfield, Ragan Wright, took to social media with his opinions about the jail dispute between the city and county.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott didn't like what he read.

Arnott's response?

File a motion for a gag order."

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like that is breaking news, from today's paper. Thanks for sharing @8:35. If Arnott doesn't like this guy's social media page, he must really hate my blog.

Based on my brief interaction with him, Arnott is just not very smart. The word "dunderhead" comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Billy Long has already claimed "Dumber than a box of Chinese nails".

Anonymous said...

Here is another one from a few years ago.

http://show-mecannabis.com/2014/09/local-drug-cops-invoke-terrorism-to-skirt-sunshine-law/

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for URL, @9:31. Arnott just seems to have no concern for the law, does he? This jumped out at me:

"The Combined Ozarks Multijurisdictional Enforcement Team (COMET) is an extremely aggressive drug task force operating in Springfield, Missouri and surrounding counties. It’s run by Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who recently made news for not telling anyone he had acquired a war-surplus Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP)."

Why on earth does he need a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP). The GCSO encounters lots of mines around these parts?

Here is URL to that story:

http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2014/07/15/jess-rollins-opinion-giant-shield-show-force/12684937/

Anonymous said...

Hmn, I wonder how aggressive they are...the drug task force that is...maybe shades of Alabama?

Anonymous said...

@12:39 again, I don't understand why the Sheriff Arnett saw the need to bring that amount of firepower to evict you. Missouri law from what I read seems stacked in favor of the landlord. I found two statues that stated that there is no stay of execution even if you file an appeal unless the tenant files a bond covering the full amount of rent due, costs, and damages. It is almost like the law was written by landlords to screw tenants over.

When did the judgment come due?

According to Missouri Statue 535.110, applications for appeal do not stay execution unless a bond for rent due, costs, and damages is given within 10 days the judgment becomes due. 535.160 further states that if no money judgment is awarded, there is no stay of execution.

535.110. Applications for appeals shall be allowed and conducted in the manner provided as in other civil cases; but no application for an appeal shall stay execution unless the defendant give bond, with security sufficient to secure the payment of all damages, costs and rent then due, and with condition to stay waste and to pay all subsequently accruing rent, if any, into court within ten days after it becomes due, pending determination of the appeal.

535.160. If the defendant, on the date any money judgment is given in any action pursuant to this chapter, either tenders to the landlord, or brings into the court where the suit is pending, all the rent then in arrears, and all the costs, further proceedings in the action shall cease and be stayed. If on any date after the date of any original trial the defendant shall satisfy such money judgment and pay all costs, any execution for possession of the subject premises shall cease and be stayed; except that the landlord shall not thereby be precluded from making application for appeal from such money judgment. If for any reason no money judgment is entered against the defendant and judgment for the plaintiff is limited only to possession of the subject premises, no stay of execution shall be had, except as provided by the provisions of section 535.110 or the rules of civil procedure or by agreement of the parties.

Anonymous said...

LS: Are there any statue of limitations concerns with your treatment from the powers that be in either AL or MO?

legalschnauzer said...

No, @9:53, there are no statute of limitations issues in either AL or MO.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:39 -- a few responses to issues you raise

(1) Yes, MO law is tilted way in favor of tenants. I suspect it's that way in many states, but Missouri probably is one of the worst states in which to be a tenant.

(2) We paid all fees required of us, as you can see from 9/9 notation in docket entries that Missouri Court of Appeals sent correspondence acknowledging receipt of the notice of appeal.

(3) No bond was required because no damages, costs or rent were specified in the judgment. You can call up the judgment at case.net and see no dollar amount was specified for us to pay. The judge ruled that we were to leave premises, and we timely and properly filed an appeal. Clerk at Greene County looked at the judgment and said no bond was required because no money damages or rent were specified against us.

(4) 535.160 did not apply for same reasons noted in No. 3 above.

(5) I would refer you to 535.350, which states: "534.350. The judge rendering judgment in any such cause may issue execution at any time after judgment, but such execution shall not be levied until after the expiration of the time allowed for the taking of an appeal, except as in the next succeeding section is provided."

(6) Execution came more than two days before expiration of the 10-day time allowed for appeal.

Bottom line: Execution was unlawful for two reasons: (a) Our notice of appeal put a stay on execution; (b) The execution was scheduled and took place more than two days inside the 10-day appeal window.

Anonymous said...

Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states, "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no." It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist, although the general concept is much older.

legalschnauzer said...

Of course it can be answered no. It can also be answered yes. In this case, the answer is yes. Betteridge wasn't too bright, unless he was trying to be funny.

e.a.f. said...

People of colour are more frequently brutalized by the police, but trust me, they brutalize whites also, especially if they are a pain in the ass to the system or have created a disturbance which intefers with their enjoyment of time on shift. Just go to any country in the world where the majority is white.

In B.C., Canada we have a rather infamous case of 4 RCMP officers tazering a white man to death and lying about it. It occurred at the Vancouver International Airport. After a rather lengthy investigation, with film at 11, the cops were brought to trial.

Cops like many others do not have a "loyalty" to their community or to their own integrity. Its every person for themselves and if lying works, they do it. it starts at the top with our key politicians and just dripples down.

legalschnauzer said...

When the time comes, e.a.f, I'm sure the Missouri cops (and their accomplices) will lie, cheat, destroy evidence . . . anything to avoid being held accountable.

Phil Fleming said...

Gestapo tactics