August 25, 2011

Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal

I am happy to report that the technicolor mailbox saga has come to an end for now. This morning, in Town of Ithaca Court, I accepted an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal which ends the trespassing violation charges developer Otis Phillips (quite wrongly, I believe) brought against me unless I commit crimes in the next six months.

(It was in Town of Ithaca Court because both Dryden Justices, rightly I think, recused themselves from the case and it was reassigned.)

I have yet to meet Mr. Phillips, and at this point hope it stays that way. I doubted his right to put a Posted sign on the mailbox with the stormwater plan, and asked the Town Planner, Dan Kwasnowski, whether that was real. His "sure, open the box" reply led me to the serious shock of finding a head with my name scrawled across the forehead on it.

Leaving my family to go to Baltimore for work for a few days after finding that head was a miserable experience in worry, amplified by the visit from the State Police that followed, not to mention the past few months of legal back and forth. While I am delighted with the representation Liam Murphy provided, and several others who supported his work, as well as my family's unwavering support, getting through this has not been pleasant.

I would like to say that I held my head up high throughout this, but I didn't. In the short term, this blunt intimidation took a serious toll in energy, distraction, insomnia, and time wasted wondering whether they can really get away with this. I could have taken this all the way to trial - a big part of me thinks I should have - but that exhaustion is real and the offer was acceptable.

In the long term, however, I hope this experience has made me more resilient, more willing to believe that yes, people really can be awful, and more realistic in my expectations about how the world works. I'd like to find ways to ensure that such intimidation reliably backfires, and support other people facing similar challenges. I also need to write a letter to the Town suggesting that they clarify both the stormwater law and the advice they provide residents.

There are no conditions attached to the ACD, except the standard one that I not commit any crimes in the next six months. As I don't plan to commit any crimes, I don't find that particularly onerous. The Assistant District Attorney did deliver a stern lecture in which he seemed to mistake me for a burglar, and legally I'm now "warned" not to go on the property. The same strength of legal warning, of course, could have been delivered with a simple letter without any trips to court or police cars in my driveway.

And all of this could have been avoided completely, had Mr. Phillips obeyed town law in the first place, or perhaps even used a standard clear envelope for building permits rather than a flagrantly painted but opaque mailbox.

Thank you to many many friends for your support through this dark time. It definitely made it easier to keep going.

Posted by simon at August 25, 2011 12:15 PM in ,
Note on photos


Gag Halfrunt said:

Reading aobut this whole thing has really gotten me mad. I know I've got someone new to add to my List of people never to go anywhere near/do business with ever list. (and no, its not you Simon)

Thomas Shelley said:

Simon--Congratulations on surviving this ordeal! Phillips is a jerk of the highest order. Tom

Hilary Lambert said:

Phillips and Belisario are apparently real trouble makers.