Last week, municipal officials agreed to stay a trial stemming from a code enforcement violation issued to a South Madison Street property owner in June.
Outside of City Hall, Joe James, the defendant, told The Journal that municipal officials had overstepped their duties and failed to comply with court procedures. James said, for example, prosecutors failed to provide discovery in the case until last week’s scheduled trial date, Monday, Jan. 4.
“The city is trying to change the rules,” he said.
According to municipal records, the case was transferred from code enforcement officer Robert Lindvall, who initially issued a courtesy notice in regard to the pending nuisance complaint on June 10, to interim building director Sam Proffer, who closed the case on Aug. 3, after James complied with a court agreement to install a privacy fence, effectively obstructing the public’s view of his backyard.
“They didn’t tell me how long the fence had to be up,” James said last week. “I didn’t like it, so I took it down.”
After removing the fence in early September, Proffer reopened the case against James in late October, re-issuing a municipal summons for failure to comply. Last week’s scheduled trial date was stayed until May 2, after James agreed to re-install the privacy fence.
After the hearing, James said he planned to comply with the court’s instruction, but he reiterated his irritation over city officials trespassing onto his property.
“They have no (expletive) business being on my property,” James said.
“No one has complained about my property, and I’ve lived there for 32 years,” he continued. “The city is making a big to-do over nothing. It’s not right.”
In late spring and early summer last year, Cortez experienced early monsoon-like conditions receiving above normal rainfall. Tall weeds were commonplace across town, in residential yards, alleyways and along city rights-of-way.
After receiving the initial code violation, James purchased a half-page advertisement in The Journal as a light-hearted attempt to showcase to the community that a “lawn cop” had trespassed onto his property.
“He’s a bully,” James described Lindvall at the time. “He intimidates people.”
James didn’t file an official complaint with the city, per se, but he did call Lindvall in June.
“I didn’t threaten him,” said James. “I promised him that if he ever came onto my property again that I was going to whip his ass.”
Last week, James renewed his vow, telling The Journal that he would assault any city official that he found trespassing on his property.
“When the police are looking for a criminal, they come and ask me if they can go into my backyard,” James said. “You don’t go onto someone’s property, and tell them they are the ones that (expletive) up.”