Pima County Justice Court: Is It Just A Rubber-Stamp-Landlord-Court?

          slumlord ‘sick’ house

It is shameful that the court system in Tucson, Arizona seems to engage in cronyism. All a slumlord has to do is get an attorney who is well-connected and liked, and they have won before they have even begun.  It’s not always that way, but with the departure of Justice of the Peace Peyton, Pima County Justice Court has gone to hell in a hand-basket.

It appears also, that, there are some clerks who steer cases to specific judges so that the corrupt connection remains intact.  And, even though a person has the right to a change of judge, as a matter of right, somehow, that Judge will not relinquish the case.  That is my opinion as to Justice of the Peace Bacal. She is still ruling on the case, months after there were several specific requests to change from her to another judge, as a matter of right.

You see, I did nothing wrong. The landlord did. I took care of the property as best I could when considering my limited income. And even though I am not a professional painter, I painted every other year… they never painted inside, not even prior to our moving in. They only painted outside in the ninth year of our living there, and that was only to hide the wood-rot.  It was when my son complained about air conditioning not working, and I refused to allow the matriarch to bring an unknown stranger into my home, without the proper notice which is required by the Arizona Landlord Act, that they decided that they wanted us to move out.  This was all within a six months period of time.

To add insult to injury, the matriarch, Rose Collins, had the nerve to call me on the evening of Thanksgiving, as if I had nothing else to do, saying she would be over in the morning. (The law says 48 hours advance notice is required.) It was a bittersweet Thanksgiving for me, because it was my first Thanksgiving without my mother who had passed away the year before. Rose Collins also routinely harassed me about taking care of the weeds. (Yet, her son swore to the Arizona Attorney General, in writing, that they never made that a requirement of the tenancy. But, that office did not know what to do when I presented them with a notice signed by their ‘fake’ bookkeeper threatening to charge us for having it done if we did not take care of it. Yes, the notice was prepared by Marianne Powell, but she signed it as the fake bookkeeper.)

When I requested that the routine pre-winter heater cleaning take place, Rose Collins refused to have it done. This was indeed decreased services, but Judge Pro Tem Benavidez refused to rule upon my counterclaim during the hearing, and the law clerk for Judge Metcalf asserted that there were no decreased services, even though the attorney never denied that there were decreased services.  Not only that, the landlords refused to provide us with a filter as they had done every fall. And, even though rent was still being paid to the court, and I sent their attorney an email requesting a filter for the heater, they never provided one again. So, the filter from 2016 was the last one to be provided, and when I moved in fall/winter 2018, they had still not provided one. The photos below show not only the state of the filter, but also the mold that was present in the space where the filter was housed. (They were told about the mold in 2011!  I was diagnosed with COPD in the interim period.)

This is the door behind which is the filter in the hallway.

 

filter ‘closet’

This is the condition of the filter as of November, 2018 as a result of the slumlord’s refusal to provide a new filter, and the alleged failure of their attorney to instruct them to do so.

And this is the ceiling of the  filter closet, where the mold is located.

And this is the screen to the backdoor which I purchased because the landlord refused to provide me with one. This was the condition of it because I could not afford to purchase a new one.

Yet, Pima County Consolidated Justice Court opted to take their side in ways which went beyond the normal procedure.  They were hell-bent  on making certain that these ‘upstanding’ landlords, who did not give a damn about their property, had it returned to them, because they had to be right because their attorney said they were.  The Judge Pro Tem, Thomas Benavidez, was in such a hurry to grant them everything, that he did not even prepare the required minute entries, (causing a greater problem later on), and, had he bothered to delve into the issues raised within our counterclaim, he could have obtained testimony as to this. All he did was ask the attorney, Blythe Edmondson, if she replied. She said ‘no’ in way which I perceived to be cocky and arrogant, as if she already knew that she would not need to do so. So he just moved on, rushing us to finish with presenting our case.

And, it remains my opinion, that, after that, parties within the clerk’s office, sided with the landlord and the landlord’s attorney, ignoring policy and protocols as defined within the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, and at times, as I said to D. Wade and Xavier Verdugo, it appeared to me that they were making things up as we moved along. Mr. Verdugo, (Civil supervisor), seemed to believe that his opinion mattered when it came to my counterclaim, and other issues, to the point that he had initially refused to send the default judgment to a judge because ‘he‘ didn’t “see service”. Even though the attorney was served twice!  And oddly enough, he takes it to a judge who parrots exactly what Mr. Verdugo said …. (hmmmm). The attorney and her cohorts throughout this process have lied and stated that Benavidez ruled upon the counterclaim. He did not, and I have recordings of the hearing to prove it.  But for some reasons, the slumlords had more credibility than we did.

This was not how it is supposed to happen in any court. They are not supposed to care who wins. They are supposed to be impartial.  And in light of all of the above, clearly there has not been any fairness or impartiality.

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