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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 They also allege that Taylor consented, then at some point rescinded the entry.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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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