A landlord in Southern California is part of a class-action lawsuit against the cities of Indio & Coachella over exorbitant fees resulting from actions taken by her tenants who had chickens. As you might have guessed, there’s a little more to the story than just raising chickens. According to the Desert Sun, the lawsuit alleges that the two cities have “made a practice of taking residents to criminal court for exceptionally minor crimes, then charging them thousands to pay for the cost of their own prosecution.”
Indeed……it turns out that the cities employment of overzealous private prosecutors that have billed residents over $122k in “prosecution fees” as well as threatening to take their homes if they didn’t pay up. The non-profit Institute for Justice (a champion of liberty & property rights) has taken up the cause and is hoping to reverse convictions of anyone prosecuted by Indio & Coachella’s privatized prosecutors. They also want Ramona’s conviction vacated and the fees she paid returned because, they say at the time she pleaded guilty, she had no idea that her prosecutor had a personal, financial stake in the case.
“There are enough laws on the books that you can prosecute basically anyone you want to if you are motivated enough, and the housing code is really ripe for abuse,” Redfern said. “But, if you combine capacious and vague code, where almost anything can be a violation, and you let the person who is going to enforce the code make money off of it, then the potential for abuse is just tremendous.”