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Man’s barking dogs did not violate noise ordinance

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An Indianapolis man will be able to keep all four of his dogs after the Indiana Court of Appeals found that complaints by just one neighbor about barking didn’t support finding he violated a local noise ordinance. The trial judge had ordered he get rid of two of his dogs.

Wayne Brandt and his mother Betty Wilson have four dachshunds and live two lots down from Marilyn Annette Moore. Moore, who would frequently call the authorities to complain about her neighbors or activities in the neighborhood, kept a log of the barking by the four dogs. She called on more than one occasion about the dogs’ barking interfering with her ability to enjoy her property.

A bench trial was held on whether Brant violated Section 531-204(a) of the Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County, which says “It shall be unlawful for a person to own or keep any animal which by frequent or habitual howling, yelping, barking, screeching, other vocalization or otherwise shall cause serious annoyance or disturbance to persons in the vicinity.”

Moore was the only neighbor to make complaints or testify negatively about the dogs. Other neighbors said the barking did not bother them. The trial court found against Brant and ordered, per the mandatory provisions of Section 531-728 of the Revised Code, that he is limited to own two dogs and that they be spayed or neutered.

In Wayne Brant v. City of Indianapolis, 49A05-1201-OV-12, the Court of Appeals reversed on the grounds that the plain, ordinary usual meaning of the term “persons” as used in the ordinance means that just one neighbor’s complaints are insufficient.

The appellate court also addressed the city’s contention that the interpretation of “persons” to mean more than one person would run afoul of the guarantee of equal protection under the 14th Amendment because this interpretation would ignore the household of a single owner. But the City-County Council may not have wished to invoke its civil penalty authority for a noise ordinance unless multiple citizens were negatively impacted, such that the noise constituted a public, rather than private, nuisance, Judge John Baker wrote.


 

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  • Justice
    Some neighbors may live just far enough away or even across the street where the sound is muffled enough not to bother them. But if you live right next door, it is indeed a nuisance. And it's not fair that one person doesn't count. Their life is affected. I've been in this position and you can't rest at your home, you can't nap, you can't read, you can't work, you can't think, essentially, you can't live in your residence peacefully. I don't understand why falling under "private" nuisance changes this. Nuisance is Nuisance. The court made the wrong judgment here. We can only hope the judge and court members who voted against this live next to a dog like this one day and can't do anything about it. That would be true justice.

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  2. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

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