On July 14th, I discovered that my neighbor had fenced in my driveway. I had told everyone at the closing on my property in 2002, that if I did not have enough land east of the sink hole on my property to put in a driveway, I did not want that property, and would find something else. Two real estate professionals assured me that I owned all the way to the power pole, which certainly seemed appropriate, since I knew that power companies like to put their poles on property lines. That lets them serve two customers from one pole, and prevents anyone from saying that they wanted to put something where the power pole was, and they wanted the power company to move their pole. In addition, the county plat map showed my property line as being directly across from a property line across the street, and there was a fence line directly opposite that power pole. In fact, you could draw a straight line from that fence to the fence of the neighbor diagonally behind my property. In addition, there was a short remnant of a barbed wire fence directly in line between the power pole and the rear corner. Lots of reasons to believe I owned the property. My buyer's agent showed me several tacks which had been hammered into the power pole, and assured me that one of them (the tacks had raised heads that looked like hieroglyphics) showed that the power company had verified that the pole was on the property line. The county engineer who did my perc test, said that he had dug the hole in the center of my property. When I finally found it, it was more than 100 feet east of the center, so the county engineer thought my property line was even east of the power pole! So I put my driveway in there, and have had sole uncontested possession of the land for more than 15 years. So when I called the Sheriff's office, they sent three deputies out to my home and told both the neighbor and myself that I had the right to that driveway, and that he could not block it. Well, he had his lawyer contact the State's Attorney for our county, and they concocted a scheme to turn this into a criminal matter. It is, in reality, a simple property dispute. He has title to the property now, but our state's adverse possession statute states that after seven years of uncontested possession, I have the right to a fee-simple title to that land. I have more than doubled that period with no contest. This is a matter which would have to be resolved in civil court, not criminal court! The State's Attorney had no business getting involved at all! instead, he has acted as both judge and jury in a very much one-sided (ex-parte would be the legal term) trial. The State's Attorney then told the Sheriff to serve me with a trespass notice, and told the neighbor that he should block my driveway off with a fence and a gate. Such an order must come from a Judge, following a trial at which both parties can be heard. The Sheriff gave me the trespass notice, saying that if I were seen on the property, I would be arrested for trespass after notice, and that if I cut the fence, I would also be arrested for criminal mischief. I told the deputy that I had just two days earlier run across FS 704.01(2), which appeared to be controlling in this situation. He totally ignored me. I sent an email to a deputy who has remained on my side throughout this incident the next morning with a copy of that law, which reads as follows:
STATUTORY WAY OF NECESSITY EXCLUSIVE OF COMMON-LAW RIGHT.--Based on public policy, convenience, and necessity, a statutory way of necessity exclusive of any common-law right exists when any land, including land formed by accretion, reliction, or other naturally occurring processes, or portion thereof, which is being used or is desired to be used for a dwelling or dwellings or for agricultural or for timber raising or cutting or stockraising purposes is shut off or hemmed in by lands, fencing, or other improvements by other persons so that no practicable route of egress or ingress is available therefrom to the nearest practicable public or private road in which the landlocked owner has vested easement rights. The owner or tenant thereof, or anyone in their behalf, lawfully may use and maintain an easement for persons, vehicles, stock, franchised cable television service, and any utility service, including, but not limited to, water, wastewater, reclaimed water, natural gas, electricity, and telephone service, over, under, through, and upon the lands which lie between the said shut-off or hemmed-in lands and such public or private road by means of the nearest practical route, considering the use to which said lands are being put; and the use thereof, as aforesaid, shall not constitute a trespass; nor shall the party thus using the same be liable in damages for the use thereof, provided that such easement shall be used only in an orderly and proper manner.
In fact, the shortest and most practicable route is my existing driveway. I should note that the total amount of land in question is less than one-sixth of an acre, about five per cent of the neighbor's land, and he was well aware that my driveway crossed his land when he bought his property. If he did not like it he should have not bought the property. In fact, this is a neighborhood of primarily mobile homes, and you can buy the land diagonally across the road from his, about 1.5 acres, fenced, with well, septic system and power pole, plus an older single-wide mobile home, for $5,000! Yet this guy paid $175,000 for his home. The CARDINAL rule of real estate, is that you do not want to own the most expensive home in the neighborhood! in this case, most of the homes on the street are probably worth in the area of $50,000 to at most, $80,000, so his home is worth about three times the average value of homes on that street, definitely a violation of the cardinal rule of real estate. And there is another property that is similar to the one across the street. In both of those cases, the owner has spent more time in jail than at the home in the last several years.
In any event, the Sheriff's action, as directed by the State's Attorney, is a blatant violation of the law cited above. It has also left a 76-year-old man, who lives alone, with NO ACCESS to ambulance or fire service to his home--services for which he pays with his Municipal Services Taxing Units (I pay no property taxes per se, as a low-income senior, but I do pay for municipal services). I say that the State's Attorney CONSPIRED with the neighbor's attorney to violate that law, and that both should be disbarred by the Florida Bar Association. And of course, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that applies MEGA-FOLD to those who have a duty to understand and obey the law! I am also looking for an attorney who would like to sue the state (the State's Attorney acted as an officer of the state) and the county, as well as the neighbor's attorney's law firm, and the neighbor himself. The law firm, the state, and the county, however, have relatively deep pockets! And I believe that I am a very sympathetic victim of their actions! I also now have to park my car on a power company right of way at the west end of my property, which is not cleared to be a driveway. I have to carry 44-pound bags of cat food well over 200 feet of unimproved terrain, with roots sticking out the ground and other obstacles, to get to the shed where I keep my cat food, instead of the 40 feet or so from where I am used to parking. And the other day, my car started idling at 3000 rpm! When I popped the hood to see what had happened, I found twigs and grass and weeds wrapped around the throttle cable. That is a potentially very dangerous situation caused entirely by where I now have to park my car. All in all, I feel that the actions of the State's Attorney were willful and go far beyond criminal negligence, into the area of criminal misconduct. That is why I have him pictured behind bars on a tee shirt!
I have also offered to put other public figures in a similar position on a tee shirt, for a nominal artwork fee of $10 plus the cost of the shirt. I won't use the word corrupt unless I feel that there are verifiable facts that would cause a reasonable juror to agree that the term was appropriate. But if you want to have a shirt that makes a similar statement, I will custom create such a shirt for you and can put it up on my store where you can buy it and tell your friends that they can buy it as well! Leave a voicemail on my phone, or email me or PM me on Facebook or use facebook messenger (jhwaaser) or send me ten bucks to Crossroads Publishing of Florida, P. O. Box 222, Worthington Springs, FL, 32697 along with a letter saying what you want. Either send me a link to a photo I should use (I will remove the background and turn it into a pencil sketch to get around any copyright issues, like I did here) or let me know their name and their claim to fame so I can find a photo. And include a way (like an email address) so I can let you know that the shirt is uploaded to the store, and you can buy it. I'll include a direct link to the page. Also let me know what you think the text should say. It if could be libelous you would have to provide verifiable information that would justify it. But something as simple as "Put THIS guy behind bars" should be acceptable, because you could have any number of reasons for saying something like that....