Thursday, May 11, 2017

Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law shines new light on bogus allegations that I threatened to shoot any deputies who might barge into our home for eviction

I've never yearned to own a firearm, so "Castle Doctrine" laws -- which allow for the use of force to protect the home -- never have held much fascination for me. But that has changed since I learned that the Castle Doctrine Law in Missouri, where we now reside, has an impact on false allegations that have been made against me.

We recently showed that my wife, Carol: (A) Did not assault a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor charge that she still faces; and (B) Even if she had used force, it would have been lawful under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law. Of course, it would have been impossible for Carol to apply much force, given that a deputy broke her arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair. But the public is supposed to believe she was the assaulter, not the victim of an assault?

Now, we've learned that the same law shines new light on the myth that, roughly one week before our unlawful eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, I placed a 911 call and threatened to shoot any cop who attempted to evict us. I never made such a threat, or placed such a call, and discovery in our upcoming federal lawsuit will prove that. Research on Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law, however, indicates such a threat -- under the circumstances -- would have been lawful.

I've never been quite sure how the 911-call myth came to fruition. I first heard about it in an e-mail from my brother-lawyer, David Shuler, who lives here in Springfield, Missouri. He wrote that a deputy named Scott Harrison had informed him that a dispatcher reported such a call from me. I responded to David, in no uncertain terms, that I had never called 911 in my life -- and I certainly had not issued a threat to anyone, much less cops, via 911.

The 911 myth might have its genesis with a one-time "friend," who shall remain nameless, for now. About the same time of David's e-mail, this "friend" visited our duplex apartment, uninvited, and tried to convince us to leave because the landlord had sent us a notice to vacate. I informed Mr. "Friend" that the landlord was violating the terms of our lease, and we intended to fight the attempted eviction.

Mr. "Friend" began to berate Carol and me, saying we had made all sorts of "bad decisions" that led to my unlawful incarceration in Alabama and foreclosure on our Birmingham home. As he stood up and started to stomp out, I said, "Why don't you sit down and tell us what 'bad decisions' we've made."

I don't remember the conversation from there word for word, but I believe the only "bad decision" he could come up with was my refusal to accept the offer of an unspecified "other" job after my termination as an editor at UAB.

Of course, he failed to mention a few things: (1) I never had an offer in writing; (2) I never was told where at UAB I would be working; (3) I never was told who my boss would be; (4) I never was told why I was being forced to leave my position when a UAB grievance committee had found that I should not have been fired; (5) I never was told why I was being forced to leave my position when the HR director admitted my supervisor had butchered the situation and "would be dealt with." (The supervisor, I've been told, was forced to retire.); (6) When I asked to see a copy of the grievance hearing's written report, the request was denied; (7) Along with the job shuffle, I would have to accept two written warnings in my file, and UAB policy calls for automatic termination after three written warnings; (8) When I asked what the two written warnings were for, the HR director said the committee decided they were in "lieu of termination"; (9) When I asked what UAB policy allowed a grievance committee to find an employee had been wrongfully terminated but still should receive two written warnings, the HR director was stumped. When I again asked to see the committee's written report, the request was denied; (10) When I told the HR director, "It sounds like you are trying to set me up to be fired all over again," she didn't deny it. When I said, "If I wore the wrong color of socks to work one day, I could be fired," she didn't deny that either. In fact, she said, "That would be up to your new supervisor."

I firmly informed Mr. "Friend" that he did not know squat about what had happened at UAB. I also told him he didn't know squat about Missouri eviction law -- that the eviction unlawfully had been scheduled inside a 10-day window when no such action could be taken, and we intended to file a notice of appeal, which would put a stay of execution on the eviction.

As I recall, he said that we were going to be evicted anyway, and I informed him that anyone who unlawfully attempted to break into our home would be wise to think twice about that. Is that a radical thought? I imagine 99 percent of homeowners and renters in the US of A would say the same thing, although many probably would say it in much stronger terms than I did.

Mr. "Friend" has admitted that he passed along this "threat" to someone, probably my brother and possibly my health-care provider. As a result, Mr. "Friend" might soon have at least a couple of legal issues to deal with: (1) The conversation in question took place in our home, where Carol and I had an "expectation of privacy." The "friend's" actions might constitute invasion of privacy, and to the extent that his words to others were false, that might constitute defamation; (2) A person's relationship with a health-care provider, and his medical records, are protected by several layers of privacy laws. If Mr. "Friend" stepped into that minefield, he was most unwise.

But here is the key point: If I had used physical force -- even deadly force -- against those I reasonably believed were unlawfully entering my home, that would have been legal under Missouri's Castle Doctrine. And it makes no exception for invading cops.

Under Mr. "Friend's" apparent scenario, which likely is filled with falsehoods, I made a "threat" to do something that is 100 percent legal, even encouraged, under Missouri law. I pledged, in so many words, to protect my "castle" from unlawful intruders. Does that make me a criminal? Nope, it makes me a good Missourian.

Did Mr. "Friend" have grounds to report me to anyone for threatening to engage in lawful activity? No, he did not. And that is one of several reasons he might be needing to "lawyer up" in the near future.


Anonymous said...

I've never been big on the Castle Doctrine laws, but if they help keep cops from barging into people's homes, maybe they serve a useful purpose.

Anonymous said...

Kind of hard to shoot anybody if you don't have a gun, isn't it? Haven't you stated you didn't have a gun?

legalschnauzer said...

@9:20 --

That's correct. I even pointed that out to Mr. "Friend." I can guarantee you no one ever has seen me with a gun in my hand, beyond a BB gun when I was about 12 years old -- and I regret ever having used that.

Anonymous said...

So, this "friend" reported you to somebody for threatening to do something that is legal? Some friend.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:10 --

That's how it appears, yes. And you are right, he's a sorry excuse for a friend. The really troubling part is he played a major role in getting us to leave our house in Birmingham and move to Missouri. It appears his motives in that were somewhat less than pure.

Anonymous said...

Your scenario about the friend and UAB made me LOL. I've had so-called friends pull the same shiite on me. "Oh, you should have done this, you should have done that," they say. "Were you there, were you standing in my shoes?" is my usual response. They usually go silent.

Takes a lot of arrogance for your "friend" to think he knows more about the particulars surrounding your UAB termination than you do. In my experience, this kind of thing is a sign of controlling behavior.

Anonymous said...

Is your friend the one who called 911, and they are trying to lay that on you?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:22 --

I'm not sure that Mr. "Friend" is the one who called 911, but it's starting to look that way. And yes, that has been laid at my feet for months. A Deputy Harrison (who pointed the assault rifle at my head) supposedly told my lawyer brother, David, that I had called 911, when I knew I hadn't. Harrison was lying, David was lying, or they both were lying -- which would be no surprise to me.

Anonymous said...

Cops took this "call" seriously? It's scary because this kind of crap could happen to anybody. Imagine this:

Someone wants to buy my house for $100,000. I tell them it's for sale by owner, and I won't take a dime less than $150,000. They call 911 and claim I threatened to shoot any real-estate agent or potential buyer who comes on the property. Next thing you know, I've got a bunch of heavily armed cops on my property -- all because someone was pissed because I wouldn't sell my house at his price.

Anyone can pick up the phone, say any kind of BS they want about you, and cops are going to appear like a SWAT team? Unreal.

Anonymous said...

Any semi-trained 911 operator should have said, "Sir, what you are describing as a threat actually would be lawful defense of 'castle' -- if it were to happen. You aren't talking about a crime or an emergency, so stop wasting my time."

legalschnauzer said...

For the record, I had filed documents in court -- prior to the eviction -- showing that I "reasonably believed" (actually, I knew) that any execution would be unlawful. I tried to explain this to Mr. "Friend," to my health-care provider -- both well before the execution happened. I also tried to explain it to Sheriff Arnott and his colleagues as they were throwing us out of our home. All of my explanations fell on deaf ears.

Here is link to a post on that subject:

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, messing around with the 911 system can be a crime.

Anonymous said...

Why would your friend think it's his duty to protect cops from the possible consequences of something they aren't supposed to be doing?

legalschnauzer said...

@5:34 --

Darned good question. I feel stabbed in the back, but I'm getting used to that feeling.

My guess is that someone from Alabama had an influence on Mr. Friend's behavior.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like they set you up ahead of time by calling 911 pretending to be you. If you are familiar with the term "Swatting" then you know how this can be done and made to look like the call is coming from someone else. When you do get a hold of the 911 call, assuming it wasn't erased, then it won't be your voice on it.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:25 --

I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but you might be onto something. It very well could have been a case of "Swatting." For sure, my voice won't be on any tape because I made no such call.