Wisteria vines, apples, lawyers and justice in Fayette County
I learned a lesson of a lifetime today. “If you go to court thinking you have a chance to win without an attorney you are living in a dream world.”
I have a neighbor who has land that is just feet from my front door [and] has been neglected for years. I didn’t care until vines called wisteria grew from their trees onto my storage shed, in the shed, under the shed and down from trees on their property to shrubs on my property, wrapping them in vines.
I have heart failure and I am no longer able to cut grass and do yard work. I have to pay to have it done. This lady has an unlisted phone number, so I thought if I wrote her a certified letter asking her to please cut back the vines growing from her property she would comply.
I sent her letters in 2010, 2011, 2012: no response. I decided to go to court and file against her, [thinking] the court would give me a judgment against her and I could have the vines removed.
I got two estimates from two different companies: one estimate was $2,500 and the other was $2,600. Both owners of the tree companies said they had never seen such neglect in their days doing tree work.
I made pictures of the vines growing in the trees and onto my property, pictures of their fence posts that had rotted and fallen over into my yard, made pictures of vines on top of my storage shed, inside the shed and growing in my azaleas.
I went to court on my birthday, Sept. 20, [and] presented my evidence. The property owner had a lawyer that represented her. I called today to get his name and “the court has no record of his name.”
I couldn’t afford a lawyer. Well, with all my evidence, the judge ruled this way: My estimates signed by the business owner and on the business owners’ company bills were no good, the owner of the company had to be there in court to testify to his estimates, so this was “hearsay“ evidence.
Next the judge said, “Ms. Saul, if your neighbor has an apple tree and an apple from that tree falls on your land, that is your apple. The same applies to this lady who planted wisteria vines on her property, and they grew over on your land. They are now your vines.” He said that was an “act of God.”
I wonder if he considers the rotten fence posts that have fallen on my property an “act of God,” but I forgot to ask.
It’s 4 o’clock in the morning and I didn’t sleep too well after my “day in court.” I remembered an event in my daughter’s life when she was 16 years old. She had a job after school at a pizza place in Riverdale.
Her best friend quit school and Kelley told some of the kids at school her friend was stupid for quitting school. Someone told her what Kelley had said, so she and her 175-pound boyfriend met Kelley in the parking lot when she got off work.
My daughter weighed about 65 pounds soaking wet. The guy grabbed her and held her while her friend beat her up. I pressed charges against both of them.
It just so happened that the guy was the son of a preacher, and we all know a preacher’s child can do no wrong. We went before a “judge” [and] he ruled that since Kelley laid her purse on the hood of her car, “that gave them the right to fight her.”
This had a profound effect on my daughter’s life, her ego, her self-esteem, and she doesn’t trust the justice system to nthis day.
After little sleep and a lot of thought, maybe the judge I had in court is a product of the same system of justice.
Just a word of warning: If you can’t afford to “lawyer up,” your chances to win are slim.
Please always keep in mind that if your neighbor has an apple tree, and an apple from that tree falls on your land, “it’s your apple” even if it is full of worms.
I will never forget my 77th birthday in court, and if I live to be a 100, I will never go back to court looking for justice without a lawyer.
You know I just wonder if the county commissioners have passed a law that says if your cat is outside, it has to be on a leash, why can’t they pass a law that property owners must cut back weeds, vines, etc., at their property line and not allow fences and posts to rot and fall into their neighbors’ yard.
Fayette County, Ga.