|Carol Tovich Shuler|
To grasp the absurdity of this charge, we will examine the relevant Missouri law on the subject -- Trespass, First Degree ( Misdemeanor B RSMo: 569.140). Here's how the statute reads:
Trespass in the first degree--penalty
569.140. 1. A person commits the offense of trespass in the first degree if he or she knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure or upon real property.
2. A person does not commit the offense of trespass in the first degree by entering or remaining upon real property unless the real property is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or as to which notice against trespass is given by:
(1) Actual communication to the actor; or
(2) Posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.
3. The offense of trespass in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor.
What about item No. 1? We were scheduled for eviction when landlord Trent Cowherd tried to kick us out by violating the lease. A trial court ruled in Cowherd's favor, but we timely filed a notice of appeal, within the 10-day window allowed under Missouri tenant/landlord law. That puts an automatic stay on execution of the eviction. I'm not aware of anyone who has seriously tried to dispute that these are the facts and law of the situation.
Even Jim Arnott, sheriff of Greene County, did not dispute it when I tried to explain the law to him on the day of our unlawful eviction. Arnott repeatedly turned his palms upward and shrugged his shoulders as I talked. But he never said a word to dispute what I was saying.
This means Carol lawfully was on the property and lawfully remained on the property, until she was carted off to the Greene County Jail when a deputy shattered her arm, and Arnott falsely claimed she had assaulted said officer.
We also encounter the word "knowingly" here, which we addressed in yesterday's post about the assault charge. Did Carol know she unlawfully was entering, or remaining on, the property? Absolutely not. She knew we had timely filed a notice of appeal and paid the proper fees because she was with me. She knew how the law read about a stay of execution because I showed it to her.
Bottom line: The state has no case under prong No. 1 of the law.
What about prong No. 2. This doesn't apply for several reasons: (1) The property was not fenced or enclosed in any manner; (2) This section appears to apply to non-residents who, for whatever reason, accidentally wander onto a piece of land where they don't belong.
This was not about a "trespass" on land. Carol lived there, inside the building. Her rent had been paid until Cowherd's people essentially told me to stop paying it because we were being kicked out regardless. Carol had been a model tenant -- even Cowherd's representatives never stated otherwise -- and any planned eviction had been stayed, by law, with notice provided to all lawyers involved.
So, prong No. 2 is a complete washout for the state.
Back to the bottom line: The State of Missouri has not even a sniff of a case, for assault or trespass, against Carol Tovich Shuler. And yet, she is having to waste her time and energy going to court to defend against charges that, just on the surface, have no basis in fact or law.
In fact, the state had no grounds to arrest Carol for alleged "failure to appear" either, adding to the gross abuse that is present in this matter. We will address that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)