|Carol Tovich Shuler|
Issues related to this discovery should be in play when Carol returns to court at 9 a.m. tomorrow (6/7/17) in an effort to get dismissal of bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges. Insight generated from our mistake adds to the mountain of evidence that there were no lawful grounds for an eviction and no lawful grounds for deputies to be on the property. In fact, there now is doubt that a legitimate eviction notice ever was filed in our case, and we see evidence that at least one deputy and one attorney might have engaged in what appears to be gross court-related fraud.
What was our mistake? After Judge Kelly Halford Rose ruled for landlord Trent Cowherd in his rent-and-possession case, we timely filed a notice of appeal, inside the 10-day window for doing so. On the surface, there was no mistake in that. But we failed to realize that the docket entries when Rose issued the order (on 8/27/15) and filed the order with the court (on 8/31/15) are designated as "interlocutory judgments." (Note: You can view the docket entries by going to case.net and searching for Trent Cowherd v. Roger Shuler, case no. 1531-AC04535.)
The term interlocutory means the judgment was not final -- and that means it was not appealable. Why not? Judge Rose only heard a portion of the case -- the landlord's rent-and-possession claim -- on August 27, 2015. She scheduled a hearing for October 1, 2015 to hear all other aspects of the case, including our counterclaim for breach of contract and other torts.
Interlocutory judgments can be appealed only in limited circumstances, none of which applied to our eviction case. That means we jumped the gun when we filed our notice of appeal. We should have waited until a final judgment was issued and filed, sometime after October 1.
More importantly, this means Cowherd, his lawyers, and Sheriff Jim Arnott jumped the gun -- big time -- on the eviction. As we've reported multiple times, Missouri law provides a 10-day window in which execution of an eviction cannot take place. The window starts on the date judgment is filed with the court; in our case that was on August 31, with the 10 days expiring on Sept. 10. (Amazingly, our eviction was scheduled on Sept. 9, inside the 10-day window. That is one of at least six grounds that make the eviction unlawful.)
The 10-day window gives the defendant (us, in this case) time to file a notice of appeal, and if that happens, it puts a stay on execution. But the 10-day window, we now realize, never started in our case because there was no final judgment. That means we filed our notice of appeal too soon, and the eviction was conducted way too soon, long before there was a final judgment that gave Cowherd the right to evict.
|Trent and Sharon Cowherd|
Rose could have said something like this: "Mr. and Mrs. Shuler, I want to make sure you understand that I have ruled in favor of Mr. Cowherd in the rent-and-possession portion of this case. And I have set other issues, including your counterclaim, for hearing on Oct.1. That means my findings here today are interlocutory; they are not final. I've determined that Mr. Cowherd has a right to regain possession of the apartment, but I have not made a determination on other issues in this case. And execution of any eviction cannot take place until I have filed a final judgment, which will be sometime after Oct. 1. Also, the 10-day window for you to file a notice of appeal, which would place a stay on execution, will not start until I file a final judgment after Oct. 1."
Words to that effect would have cleared things up for us. But we learned long ago that judges aren't in the helping business. Most of them aren't in the justice business, either. In fact, I'm not sure what business they are in, other than making easy money for themselves and providing unlawful favors for their friends and fellow members of the legal tribe.
As for tomorrow's hearing, Carol has filed three new motions, one of which deals directly with the issues outlined above. (Those motions are embedded at the end of this post. The first document below -- Amended Motion to Dismiss Charges Under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law . . . -- deals most directly with issues raised in this post.)
What about the deputy and attorney who might have engaged in serious chicanery related to this case? We will address them and their actions in an upcoming post.