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Judges uphold family has no right of access through neighbor’s property

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A family claiming that for more than 50 years they had an easement to access portions of their land through a neighbor’s property lost before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Earl Shields, Larry Joe Shields and Robert Shields appealed the trial court’s findings of fact, and conclusions of law and order from Dec. 9, 2011, and the subsequent denial of their motion to correct errors in favor of neighbor Rodney Taylor. The Shields said they have driven across Taylor’s property on a dirt road accessed from a public road to reach the back portion of their land for the last 40 or 50 years, before Taylor owned the land. The Shields believed they had an easement from a previous owner, but none was found recorded. They also said that the two previous owners allowed them to use the property to access their own.

Taylor never gave the Shields permission, nor did they ask, to use his property to access theirs, and a dispute arose in 2010 after the Shields had logging done on their property. The logging company cut a trail through Taylor’s property to access the Shields’ property. Taylor filed a complaint in 2011 alleging trespass and asking for a restraining order to prevent the Shields from entering his property.

The Shields filed a counterclaim asserting that Taylor gave them access to the road by his own consent or acquiescence.  The trial court found that the Shields, by asserting that Taylor consented to their use of the Taylor real estate until 2010, acknowledged the permissive nature of their past access to Taylor’s land. They also allege that Taylor consented, then at some point rescinded the entry. The judge ruled the Shields do not have a legal basis for continued entry onto Taylor’s property.

The Shields did not sufficiently plead facts claiming that their use of the dirt road over Taylor’s property connecting the public road and the back part of their property had established a prescriptive easement, the Court of Appeals ruled. The Shields must establish clear and convincing proof of control, intent, notice and duration as the party claiming the existence of a prescriptive easement.

The court focused on the duration element, pointing to Indiana Code 32-23-1-1, which establishes that a prescriptive easement must be shown to have been in existence uninterrupted for at least 20 years. The Shields in their counterclaim did not plead that they used the dirt road in an adverse manner for 20 years or more with regards to when Taylor owned the land, so the trial court did not err in finding their counterclaim alleged only consensual entry or a consensual right of access to Taylor’s property, Judge Elaine Brown wrote in Earl F. Shields, Larry J. Shields, and Robert L. Shields v. Rodney L. Taylor, 53A04-1202-PL-95.

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  3. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  4. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  5. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

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