Judicial Inequities in the City of Long Beach
Warning – this story has nothing to do with racing and/or motorsport!
When I enter a courtroom, I do so expecting the hands of justice to be equal. I expect fair and impartial treatment and I expect that my evidence – either as plaintiff or defendant – will be noted and accepted into my trial in due course.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way things happen in Long Beach Superior Court, Department B, where Judge Patrick T. Madden presides over unlawful detainer cases. Or at least that’s not the way it happened to my friend, Nameless, whose family has been renting an apartment two blocks from me, paying rent on time and being a responsible tenant.
This property was sold recently and the new owners decided they had different plans for the six one-bedroom units of very nice size. They wanted to change the building to two-bedroom units, making the current kitchen area a bedroom and moving the kitchen into the living room. Sounds like a lot of strangely thought-out work to me… but I’m sure the financial rewards will be nice for the new owner, provided the city okays the subpar work I’ve seen completed thus far.
Despite the fact that my friend has been paying rent regularly and other tenants are still on-site, the new owners tried to evict my friend, who was not happy with the way the renovations were going as they weren’t being performed to Long Beach city code. This person spoke with several entities in the city about the slipshod work being done to the property; subsequently, the new owners have been cited for their failures to complete the work in both legal and responsible fashion.
My friend was prosecuted for unlawful detainer and when this person arrived at the courthouse with evidence – all pointing out the malicious misconduct of the new owners – justice was expected. The property owners had three pages that were incomplete and unsigned.
Judge Madden told my friend, before the proceedings even started that, should the case be lost and the family evicted, they would never be able to live anywhere ever again because of this eviction. He then refused to look at hard evidence, told the plaintiffs they “might” have problem with their three pages of unsigned documentation and sent all of them on their way.
The very next day my friend received notice that the case was being denied out of hand. Is this justice? Maybe in kangaroo court it is but this is so unexpected in Long Beach Superior Court. The fact that this jurist completely ignored Civil Code 1942.5 of retaliatory eviction by the landlord – which this case clearly is – is truly judicial malfeasance. In instances of this type, the defendant should be entitled to a jury trial – there is none because of this out-of-hand decision.
Why did it turn out this way?
All I can think of is that Judge Madden had his mind made up before even hearing the case. He sent, according to my friend, every other case out of the courtroom to settle, as he did with this defendant, who was offered 12 days to vacate and that certainly is not sufficient time to pack up after six years of tenancy.
This defendant was certain Judge Madden would – at the very least – look at the large stack of hard evidence. He did not.
Are you shaking your head yet? Are you wondering what country operates like this, taking good people, many of whom are seniors like my friend, and tossing them out on the street to benefit shady operators that are circumventing city laws?
So am I.
I know my friend is going to appeal this ludicrous monkey trial and its result, but I have to warn others in the City of Long Beach that, should they end up in Department B in Superior Court facing Patrick T. Madden, this is what they can expect.
By Anne Proffit