Those are among the conclusions from our recent discovery that eviction proceedings in Missouri cannot start until the tenant is behind on rent by at least one month.
Why do we reach these conclusions, given the huge number of reptilian legal figures we've encountered over roughly 14 years in Alabama? To be sure, Alabama's legal dirt bags hold the lead based on volume of cheat jobs. But this stuff in Missouri, which Rose and David Shuler screwed up (with help from landlord Trent Cowherd and his lawyer, Craig Lowther), is so easy to get right. That they could not get the legal equivalent of 2 + 2 = 4 right, suggests an off-the-charts level of corruptness.
Consider Rose, the judge in our eviction case. The record before her showed that Lowther had filed a rent-and-possession petition on Cowherd's behalf on August 5, 2015. Someone tried to serve a summons on us the next day. When we appeared in court on August 27, the first words out of Rose's mouth, directed to Cowherd's lawyer, should have been, "How much were these folks behind on rent when you filed the petition?"
"Uh, five days, Your Honor."
"You didn't know they have to be late by at least one month before you can seek an eviction?"
"We were sorta hoping you wouldn't notice that."
"Well, I did notice it. And you will notice significant sanctions attached to your fannies if you don't learn to follow the law in this courtroom. Case dismissed."
That's all Rose had to say, but abiding by the law apparently is too much to ask of her. Same thing for David Shuler. My "Brilliant Lawyer Brother" (BLB) knew we were not remotely close to being one month late on rent when the petition was filed. Consider this e-mail he sent to me on 6/2/15:
I hope you and Carol are doing well. Mom asked me to contact you regarding the lease on your duplex. She said she tried to talk to you about it when she recently stopped by to visit, but was unable to do so. She talked to the people at Cowherd Construction and they are willing to extend your lease without a co-signor in that the rent has always been paid in full and on time. The lady suggested that you meet Mom at their office on 6/29 and they would allow you to execute a new lease. This lease would be in your name and would be your responsibility. I do not know if they would require Carol to be on the lease. I would think that they would also want her to sign since she would be living there. I also do not know how they would handle the deposit and pet deposit since those were paid by Mom.
Mom will make the last rent payment on 6/29 which will cover the month of July. You have the option to renew and stay there or of course, you could vacate and pick some place else to live.
Again, I hope you guys are doing well. Mom just wanted me to e-mail this information to you to avoid any confusion.
This all sounds nice and sweet, right? But there is something important my brother failed to mention: There was no provision in the original lease that we had to execute a new lease if the co-signor wanted to back out; it said the original lease simply went month to month -- unless one of the parties gave proper notice that it did not plan to go month to month. Of course, any such decision by either party had to be based on provisions in the lease. If either party tried to act outside the lease -- as Cowherd did -- that becomes a legal issue called breach of contract.
Now, let's examine the ex parte letter my brother wrote to Judge Halford as our case was about to go to trial. The full letter is embedded at the end of this post, and here are the contents:
Dear Judge Halford:
I am writing regarding the above referenced case. Roger Shuler is my brother who has been estranged from my family for approximately 25 years. Recently, a family friend helped him relocate to the Missouri area. Unfortunately, my 85 year old mother made the mistake of agreeing to co-sign a lease for Roger with Trent Cowherd Construction. She agreed to pay his moving expenses and his rent for thirteen months to help him get back on his feet. She never dreamed that Roger Shuler would then refuse to pay his rent and/or vacate the property.
My purpose in writing this letter is to let you know that I intend to appear on behalf of my mother. Gondolyn Shuler intends to cooperate with the Petitioner (Trent Cowherd) in the matter and assist in any way to help them regain possession of the rental property currently occupied by Mr. Shuler.
You will notice that this is the unvarnished David Shuler, with all the phony sweetness and light removed. He says our mother made a mistake by trying to help Carol and me, as if that's a decision for him to make. Has our mother (and our father, when he was living) provided financial assistance to David and his family when they encountered rocky waters? I strongly suspect the answer is yes. But to help Carol and me? What a dreadful thought.
David then falsely claims I had refused to pay the rent or vacate the property. David's letter was dated August 21, 2015, meaning Cowherd still was at least 10 days short of being able to initiate eviction proceedings, much less have a court date. David Shuler conveniently ignores this little matter of law.
The second paragraph is so crooked that is makes the mind swim. From one side of his mouth, David claims to be representing our mother. From the other side, he admits that he (and our mother) are working on behalf of Trent Cowherd, trying to make sure Cowherd regained property that he was not entitled to regain because he untimely filed his rent-and-possession case.
"Fraud on the court" is a legal term that is more complex than most lay folks realize. I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but this probably comes pretty close to a "fraud on the court." David Shuler admits he was representing one person when his real interest was in assisting another -- and he even roped our elderly mother in on such a crooked act.
I used to think Alabama was home to a special breed of corrupt legal animal. But I've discovered you can find the same sort of animals in Missouri and probably many other states -- they have no problem crossing state lines.
Despite multiple requests, David never served the below letter on me -- as he is required by law to do. I guess David wasn't so proud of his handiwork once he knew it had seen the light of day. Isn't that how cockroaches behave, constantly trying to avoid the light?