Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The New Journey.............. Replevin part 2

Part One

I don't remember what the attorney said next. Whatever it was it wasn't accurate and I interjected my truth again. The judge cut me off saying there was no point in arguing this here, that's what a trial was for. With a gap like this obviously a trial is what it was going to take to get this matter resolved. The only thing left to do at this hearing was to determine who would have possession of the horse until the final outcome was determined.

Things definitely got confused for me here. I wanted my horse at home with me because I didn't trust BG or WF. I had been told by MG and GD, Storm hadn't been worked since January when they first realized they might not get to keep him. After weeks of standing in his stall, GD had asked permission to long line the horse and had received it. Yet in the papers and now in court, they were claiming the horse was in training and it was imperative he stay with them because anymore disruptions for their plans for him would only cause more harm.

I wanted to puke in disgust at the lies. I had to make a conscious effort to not let that disgust show on my face because it would look disrespectful and I didn't want to alienate the judge. I already knew from my previous experience in court that how a witness presents speaks volumes in how their motives are perceived and while I get disgusted at what they have tried to pull on me, all I want is what I am entitled to which is more than can be said for them.

I had already screwed up with the judge by once addressing him as "sir" instead of "your honor" and his reaction had been instantaneous. I had, however, caught my mistake as it tumbled from my lips and corrected it making eye contact with the judge to let him know I was very very sorry.......and very embarrassed. Still I didn't want to be making any more mistakes if I could help it.

I could tell I was already at a disadvantage in his eyes because of my pro se status. I had to do what I could to show him he didn't need to have cause for concern. I wanted him to know I respected the court, the process and him and that truth was all I was seeking.

There was no room for those kinds of feelings about BG and WF. The truth can get lost when anger and contempt are wrapped around it. People get focused on those emotions and begin to question motives thus losing sight of the real issue. This needed to be about the facts and how those affected my business and my dream.

In the paperwork with the counter claim there was some argument about the value of the bond I was expected to procure if the horse was returned to me while the case was in process. I'd sought and won from the pre tem judge a reduction in the value of that bond from the original purchase price to about a tenth of his value. Now BG's attorney wanted the original purchase price of the horse used instead.

My original argument had been the horse was no longer worth that price because of the failing economy and the fact the horse still had no show record. I was even prepared with documentation from professionals saying as much should I need it. Little did I know Storm had been subjected to such poor training that his value would have been destroyed even in a good market but then that would have been a different argument and one hard to prove at this point. Still the falling market had left even horses with national championships unable to sell for the price Storm had been purchased for. The real issue was being able to even procure a bond for that kind of money in this market.

There really was no point in arguing value and the amount of the bond until the decision about who would have control of the horse during the lawsuit was determined. I tried to argue that the horse was safer with me but all the judge could see was the horse had been with BG and WF this long "a few more months won't hurt."

That's where that "I am not a horse person message" really hit home to me. I just was not prepared for that brick wall that came from having no experience but lots of false perceptions. While I certainly could have addressed his beliefs had I been prepared for them, I hadn't even thought about the possibilities. With no argument from me that the judge could understand with his layman's knowledge of horses, I had no chance.

The judge let BG and WF retain possession of the horse while the lawsuit progressed. Because of that, I wouldn't be required to post a bond. While I didn't want the horse staying with them, the price of a $30,000 bond would have been very difficult for me and that was providing I could actually even get such a bond.

As I'd searched to get one, I'd come across lots of resistance. People selling bonds on horses knew what the current market was like, I was going to have to pay a premium to procure such a bond. Because of that, I could live with this decision although I was going to worry about my horse throughout this process.

The judge told the defense attorney that he was counting on her to keep things moving along in this action. That was an inference to me being pro se and not knowing what I was doing. That statement stuck with me and I remember thinking at the time, I needed to be sure that wasn't necessary. I figured if she was the one moving things along, I'd have missed something important I should be doing. This case wasn't going to withstand that. I needed to be sure I understood what came next.

BG's attorney had paperwork all prepared with an order for the judge to sign. My motion for a replevin on the horse was denied "provided that defendants shall not transfer or sell the horse or remove the horse from Pierce County during the pending of this suit."

I did try to get the judge to add in that they could not geld the horse but he wouldn't do that either. I did find out later that the original order to "not lay waste" would still apply so if they did anything to Storm I still had recourse. It was a frustrating experience but worth every minute of it to see the wind knocked out of BG's puffed up chest. I may not have gotten my horse back on that day but I had not lost the war.

To be continued......................

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  1. It is sad that so much of our judicial system is so procedural. I definitely agree with you about the way people are perceived in the courts.
    I also want to say thank you for the wonderful way you bring your journey to life again.

  2. Such a shame to have to go through this. It seems the judge may have been a tad prejudiced against you because you were defending yourself. The system has to allow some leeway for mistakes. It's also too bad that you have to try a case in front of someone who doesn't have a clue what the horse business and the welfare of horses is all about.

    I'm sure it was very frightening and stressful for you but in the end we know how it turned out so you must have had all your ducks (horses) in a row.

    I can't imagine how worried you were about your horse staying with them.

  3. I wish the judge had added in something to the effect that animal control officers would visit periodically to check on the condition of the horse to make sure it was being properly cared for. You know how some people destroy their house once they learn that it is being repossessed? This could have been a dangerous situation for Storm.

  4. Bummer, at least you have him now.

  5. I agree with NuzMuz--it would have been nice to have had a neutral third party be able to check on him. It does make you wonder what the judge was thinking about your own representation. I think it was smart of you to try to conceal your personal feelings and respect the process. Very smart.

  6. Nicole, I get the procedures are important but they shouldn't be more important than getting to the truth. That's the part that really bothers me. Thanks for the encouragement about the telling, It has been hard to do.

    Arlene, I would imagine it would be difficult to actually get a judge who had real knowledge of horses. If I ever had to do this again, I would be prepared with documentation and experts to support my concerns.

    My biggest concern was really that they might try to geld him to retaliate and that the horse was not getting safe turnout. Even now that he is home, I still regret I put the horse through such an experience. However, I didn't think MD and GD would stand by and watch the horse not be fed or watered and I actually asked them about that and they promised they would tell me if there was a problem. Though they didn't seem to notice he got no farrier work done from the point the dispute began. Maybe I had a false sense of security about how far they would actually go.

    NuzzMuzz, Animal Control or some qualified third party would have been a great idea. I will put it in my notes should I ever need to repossess a horse again.

    Smazourek, all the ups and downs of this journey were definitely worth it to get Storm back home, that's for sure.

  7. Linda, by the time I was done with this thing I was convinced that there was prejudice on the part of the judge and had it not turned out ok I would have used that as a course of action too.

    As for concealing my feelings, I didn't want to conceal them all because court decisions are very much based on emotion. I wanted to keep my passion present but in a positive way. I learned a long time ago if you want to be heard you need to not alienate those listening. It's an important lesson.

  8. Wow so glad you finally got him back, but what a horrible ordeal to go through. I too agree it would be very hard to get a judge who knows horses, especially a valuable one. I admire you for being your own judge, it just seems scaryier to me the more i read about this case.

  9. I agree , procedure should not preclude the need for the facts, and with the info laid out as far as it was ,I am very surprised the judge saw no harm in leaving the horse there.CLearly there was significant risk, after all if they stood to lose the horse , what was there to stop them from doing harm(they had by then made clear thaier willingness to flaunt the law and the truth

  10. I can't believe the judge saw fit to leave the horse with him. You had far more interest in keeping the horse in good health and condition, including training, even if BG was awarded the horse. You bred him, he carried your farm name. BG had to know at this point his case was as cut and dry as he thought, it would only make sense he wouldn't want to increase or maintain Storm's value, just in case he lost him to you.

    Very frustrating!

  11. Crystal, the court part was really the scariest but I had plans to deal with that so I would know what I was doing. It was a difficult situation that's for sure but I would go it again in a heartbeat if I had to.

    fern, at this point you know way more than the judge did. All he had was their statement and mine and not a lot of details. It was the details that were going to set the two of us apart. I don't blame him for not knowing who was right at this early stage but it would have been nice if he had been more concerned about the animal involved. Storm had no advocate but me and the judge really wasn't listening to my concerns. That was very frustrating and unfortuately not the only time it happened.

    horsemom, you are so right and they really had already made up their minds they weren't going to put a dime into him they didn't have to nor were they going to work him but the judge just didn't get it.

    It seems to me there should be some way to fix that. It's just like the case of neglect on the news last night, the judge didn't listen to the prosecutor about how much time the woman should get because he thought she "hadn't done it intentionally." That was based on the economy is bad, no money thinking. What a bunch of BS. The economy is bad for me but I haven't neglected to feed my horses or get their feet trimmed or whatever. Judges just don't know but they are making decisions and it stinks.

  12. Hey this is Amy of Arabian Glimmer and I just wanted to thank you for sharing all of this.

    I just wanted to say that you are an incredibly smart and insightful person with a lot of focus and determination.

  13. You have done an amazing job. This can't be an easy process.