Friday, December 31, 2010
In the case of one-time tenant Christine Tuohy vs. former landlord Thomas Renkel, Court Commissioner Kim Knowles ruled in favor of Renkel regarding the custody of Bast, the cat that had fallen into posthumous fame.
Mediation proceedings, begun at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, had collapsed, putting ownership of the cat in Knowles’ lap.
The decision was meant to settle months of conflict over the corpse, which escalated to the point that Renkel called the Sonora Police Department to finger Tuohy for the dead cat’s theft.
Even with the question of ownership decided, however, Bast’s fate was still up in the air until a last minute mediation put it in the hands of a third party that, until then, hadn’t been involved in the case at all.
First, some background.
Bast, named by Tuohy after an Egyptian cat-god, tumbled into the future adversaries’ lives by accident in June 2008.
Tuohy was planning to move from Reno to Sonora and had made plans with Renkel to rent space in the historic Yo-semite House on North Washington Street, part of which was to be renovated before she moved in.
Renkel was investigating a burst pipe which had caused damage to part of the building. He directed a crew to cut away a piece of ceiling to expose another pipe he believed to be in danger of rupturing.
“We did not find a pipe,” Renkel said. “What we did find was the cat. It fell onto a worker. Gave him quite a shock.”
Not surprising, since Bast is anywhere from 10 to 130 years old, depending on whom you ask. The desiccated cat carcass is a pale yellow with tattered ears and a gaping maw.
It’s still a little smelly, Tuohy said, but Renkel took a shine to the creepy thing, and displayed it outside on the stoop during the renovation process.
The grand opening of Tuohy’s Blue World Photography was set for Oct. 31. When she saw the creature soon to be known as Bast, she asked if she could display it, since scary cats and Halloween were like a match made in Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
This is where the stories differ. Tuohy claims that Renkel was about to throw the cat away when she saved it from a fate worse than its own death — the garbage.
Renkel maintains that the cat’s well-being was always at the forefront of his mind, and that he’d merely lent the ghoulish thing to Tuohy.
In Tuohy’s opinion, she made that cat a star, creating a media campaign that dubbed Bast “the Amazing Cat Mummy.”
She even took it to the California State Fair as part of the Wild and Whacky exhibit, and set up a Facebook page in Bast’s honor.
It took up seemingly permanent residence in Blue World Photography. The fate of the cat didn’t come up again until Renkel evicted Tuohy from the building, a matter which also came before the court on Thursday.
“Suddenly, after two years of not wanting it, he wanted it back,” she said.
When she refused to return the freakish feline, Renkel reported it stolen.
“And you’re not willing to give it back to him at this point?” Knowles asked.
“This is going to sound strange, but I don’t think he’d take care of it like I have,” Tuohy responded.
In Knowles’ view, the cat case was pretty cut and dry.
“The court finds that you are the owner of that cat. It was in your building, it’s your cat,” Knowles told Renkel.
The trouble was that Renkel had sued for possession of the cat claiming its worth at $1,000, a position that Knowles couldn’t support.
“How do you value the mummy cat?” she asked.
Lacking any way to assign value to do so, and being forced by California law to offer a conditional settlement, Knowles had little option but to apply a “nominal value” to the thing, assigning Bast the going rate of $1.
Tuohy thus had the option of returning the cat or paying Renkel $1 to retain possession of her treasure.
When Tuohy reached into her purse and gave Renkel a buck, the case was settled in the eyes of the court.
Yet it went one step farther.
Mediator Jim W Hildreth stepped in, and, after almost four hours of trial, Tuohy and Renkel agreed to do what they’d reportedly been kicking around all day: offer the creature up to the Tuolumne County Museum.
No representative for the museum was present to accept, or reject, the gift.
The dispute lasted over 7.5 hours and much of my appreciation goes to the parties on both sides.
Much further goes out to the Tuolumne County Superior Court and staff, in their dedication in supporting the process of having your day in court.
The court shows respect, honesty and warmth to those with conflicts.
As a mediator, who's focus is real estate disputes, its a honor to work with such a professional team of dedicated individuals.
Jim W Hildreth Mediator.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Multiple cases will be mediated and the court has a active Alternative Dispute Resolution program, 75% of the cases referred are settling in mediation, giving the disputants active dialog in resolving their individual disputes and the power to resolve those conflicts vs the court making the decision.
Cases of both small claims and civil unlimited are referred to mediation.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Within 2.5 hours the parties developed a settlement and resolve of the issues.
Hildreth stated that it was a "Win-Win" for all involved.
Hildreth does both private and court appointed mediations in Northern California. Serving the Mother Lode, Central Valley & Bay Area.
Monday, December 20, 2010
I thank KCBS for this topic, it is well worth the discussion.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Jim W Hildreth-Mediatorwww.RealEstateMediation.org
As we approach the holidays, we celebrate with our families, we share gifts, we watch the magic of delight with children as they open presents.
For many holidays may not be the holidays as we have had in our lives.
Last week while sitting in family court, the realty of shared custody, anger, resentment, substance abuse were a realty that goes beyond on our holidays.
Alcohol abuse has been apart of my family history going back for generations and today both drug of choice seems to run rampant in our society.
The impacts effect every family member in some manner and those impacts impact society.
My blog today is not about making accusations, but offering a messaage that being sober, loving life, is a worthy goal for ones self
in the steps of recovery.
I'm so apprecitive of the 12 step programs offered in each of our communities, as they offer support, love, guidance. AA, NA, ACOA,
In our economic times, its so easy to alter our behaviors often in a self destructive pattern.
Perhaps this message, may be a the keys of opportunity, that will give us the support in developing our own journey that we can reclaim our lives today and for tomorrow.
Being sober, love of self, love of our future generations, is well worth the reminder during our upcoming holidays.
Jim W Hildreth
Friday, December 17, 2010
Migrations of emigrants followed the "Gold Fever" from the 1800's.
Today a new migration wave in the Gold Country is the urban dweller who seeks a better lifestyle and a desire for a simpler life of the white picket fence, acreage and a place to retire or raise a family.
With that wave came a real estate boom starting in the 1970's.
Large acreage parcels were subdivided creating acre lots or less and the demand for commercial retail for the new storefront was the new enterprise.
With those changes and migrations of the urban dweller have created disputes involving real estate.
This week alone, Jim W Hildreth of Real Estate Mediation Services was busy mediating real estate disputes.
Paradise was a buyer/seller/real estate broker dispute, Jackson California had a non disclosure dispute between the buyer and seller over water runoff. Amador County has a new easement issues among neighbors. Sonora Superior Court in Tuolumne County had a neighbor vs neighbor dispute where a restraining order was placed and a landlord tenant issue over non-payment that exceeded $7,500.
When populations increase conflict will occur. Attorneys will be the gateway to those conflicts.
Today both the courts and the legal system are offering Alternative Dispute Resolution to those conflicts with both Mediation and Arbitration as an alternative to costly litigation and saving time to those in conflict. Often the courts may be backed up for months and the anger, resentment in conflicts cannot wait for the judicial system.
The Gold Country or the Mother Lode of California will continue to see increased populations with new subdivisions, new storefronts and naturally disputes will occur.
It is the wise community both in the legal and real estate community that offers both private and court appointed opportunities to resolve conflict and mediation does play a large role in settlement and resolve.
Jim W Hildreth is a Mediator who's focus is real estate disputes and his home is in Sonora, CA. His boyhood was in Sutter Creek, Jackson and Grass Valley.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The dispute was between buyer and seller. Hildreth based in Sonora was selected for his Real Estate knowledge in settling real estate disputes and his neutrality of the parties and community.
Spending 24 hours in Paradise CA with the parties and the community and the county of Butte, was enjoyable.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Hildreth is based in Sonora, and works closely with multiple courts in Northern California. He also works closely with the legal community and disputes involving real estate.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Alternative Dispute Resolution its Present & Future
Nearly five years ago, I had the opportunity to take the basic course of mediation through UC Berkeley Extension and Mediator Ron Kelly.
The room was filled with attorneys students who sought a alternative to the route of litigation.
For me, it was a opportunity of using 33 years as a California Real Estate Broker and with an interest
in applying decades of experience and applying it to disputes involving real estate.
For the past decade, a trend seem to be occurring that the job market for lawyers was getting tighter.
I recall a conversation with an attorney who stated to me it was more cost effective hiring an attorney than a secretary.
I read articles that in the past five years and every year, more and more people graduate from law school and there are fewer and fewer jobs.
A recent article in Yahoo news talked of the shrinking job picture for judges.
Recently a article caught my interest that this is a “Gaping Hole” in the Legal Services for the middle class as it applies to targeted mass foreclosures and debt collection suits.
The article written University law professor Larry Ribstein thinks a change in lawyer regulations could help middle class defendants.
His thought was that he suggest favoring, a legal service sector regulation based on certification rather than licensing. In his view, a law license isn't necessarily needed to provide all kinds of legal help.
In my experience this may be the case with Alternative Dispute Resolution or mediation where both attorney and non-attorneys have blended their people and mediation skills in acting as “neutrals” and having parties craft settlements vs tying the hands of local courts.
A small rural county East of San Francisco, Tuolumne County has seen in excess of 75% settlement rates with a pilot Alternative Dispute Resolution program funded by a initial grant by Judicial Council of California AOC. In six months, that is over 100 cases that offered the public alternative and freeing time for the judicial officers.
Ribstein elaborated in an article with the American Bar Association Journal. “I'm not suggesting that we completely deregulate the practice of law”, I think the problem is not too much regulation or too little regulation, but that we are linked into a single business model that cant evolve.”
Perhaps one avenue is to combine law practice with nonlegal services.
This may be a good match for Alternative Dispute Resolution or Mediation.
Its a concept that is worthy of discussion in our law schools and the many who serve local community boards where mediation plays a increased role.
Its a concept that should be discussed with local bar associations and clearly adopted and supported with leaders such as the Alameda County Bar Association in Oakland, CA where both the legal and non-legal have established a bond in membership.
Its a concept that should be discussed openly for consideration at the 2010 Conference of Delegates
for non- partisan solutions to law related issues for the benefits of Californians.
Furthermore its a opportunity for the California AOC to consider long term funding vs seed money on the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution-Mediation on a local level.
The demand of conflict will increase, more parties will turn to Pro-Per and small claims, many attorneys will suggest that cases under $25,000 may not be cost effective and suggest mediation.
The present and future of mediation and demand for disputes and the overcrowding of our courtrooms
may bring about healthy changes, solutions for the future of opportunities for both those who are licensed attorneys and those who have been certified with non-legal services.
Jim W Hildreth Mediator.
Real Estate Mediation Services