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Unread 12-25-2016, 08:45 PM   #1
Daimo Mac, The Blue Light of Hope
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Default Solid Snake! I need your lawyering brain

Snek! I need your help with some legalese and I am doing it public because I am hoping this could help other people in a similar situation and I hope you may have some knowledge i can use.

My friend (to protect his id we shall name him Jack) is living in Tennessee with his friend Roy (name changed) and Roy's Girlfriend Alice (see Roy). Alice's mom is not a nice woman, controlling, vile, vindictive and manipulative and a down right nasty person and had kept apart Roy and Alice until Alice moved out and signed a lease with Roy and Jack to live in a small apartment. Fast forward to today and Alice's mom comes in to the apartment with two cops because she (the mom) had said that Alice was being threatened by two guys, (Jack and Roy).

I can attest to my friend's character and I know he is harmless. This woman has been manipulating her daughter from since she was out of the womb. In doing so, Alice took out the Jack and Roy's rent (700 dollars) and is now screwed. Seeing as she is on the lease, is there anything they can do legally to get the money back?
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Unread 12-26-2016, 08:54 PM   #2
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Dreadful Here ya go

You've chosen quite possibly the worst couple days to ask for my help; I'm running on fumes here.

I'm confused by some specifics. Is Alice's mom their landlord? If so, that complicates matters. If not, I'm baffled as to how Alice 'took out the Jack and Roy's rent.' Did Alice technically steal the money? Was the money technically hers but was there was some arrangement wherein Jack and Roy took care of other living expenses if Alice fronted the monthly rent? When you refer to 'the rent' here, are you referring to like, seven hundred dollars in cash that Jack and Roy just foolishly left in their apartment, or a check written to Alice, or some other methodology of remitting payment?

Does 700 refer to Alice's portion of the rent, or the entire value of the monthly rent? Like, is the actual per-month rent $2100, and Alice is just refusing to pay what Jack and Roy perceive to be 'her share?' Or is the full value of the rent $700, and did Alice's mom effectively convince Alice to steal more than just 'her own share' of the property's value?

A related question: Was Alice singularly responsible on a per-month basis for providing the rent, or did Jack and Roy chip in their share?
Roy and Jack co-signed the lease, right? So the cops know that the 'two guys' Alice's mom allege threatened Alice are, in fact, not strangers but her roommates. How long have Jack and Alice been living together? Has she or her mother ever reported Jack to the cops before for any reason?

Anyway: Here's another conundrum. As lawyers, we're trained to understand that people are innately duplicitous and that even the most supposedly intimate of friends and partners can, in fact, be extremely ignorant. I'm not saying your instinct that Jack is 'harmless' because you 'know his character' is necessarily wrong. I don't know the guy. But you'd be far from the first guy to be fooled and she'd be far from the first victim (particularly as a woman, and as a girlfriend) to be abused if you are wrong. Character evidence is often inadmissible in court for good reason and I'm considering it equally irrelevant here. Meaning -- sure, from a legal sense I'd presume innocence before guilt, and if hired to represent Jack as a client I'd do so zealously. But if you're asking for my advice in an impartial capacity as an outsider, I have to accept the possibility that Alice's mom's assertions of fact are actually true, and if so the call the police might have been justified. Wouldn't subsequently justify theft, but I need a lot more information on that one.

But this all turns on assertions of facts, and I have too few facts to give you any adequate advice beyond "Tell him to get a lawyer." Because, among other things, I legally can't give you legal advice that could in any way be construed as persuasive without threatening my own credentials and opening myself up to consequences. So, you know: Never ask a lawyer for free legal advice (instead hire a poor lawyer!) The consequences to a lawyer's career when giving bad advice -- which can lead to professionalism lawsuits even when the lawyer isn't formally representing you as a client -- are so outrageous fiscally that it's kind of absurd that lawyers are even often pressured by friends and family into giving free advice.

But one thing I can say is: Most the issues I've articulated earlier are questions of fact and not law. And when they're questions of fact and not law, that often leads to lawsuits and the ultimate arbiter is going to have to be a judge or jury.

So, like: Your friend should seek a free consultation with a lawyer who's licensed to practice in Tennessee, then (if the lawyer advises to do so) pursue a small claims case to recover the money lost. A lawyer is going to be infinitely better equipped to make these determinations when they have the full facts in front of them.

Also: I cannot reiterate enough how much of a huge pet peeve it is for lawyers to receive these kinds of inquiries from friends and family. I get it; you want to potentially help a friend save money and you know a lawyer, so why not?
But: There are more than fifty different jurisdictions in the United States alone, and each jurisdiction is governed by different laws; unless you're asking me about my own state, you're asking me to do an extensive amount of additional research where I don't really know much more off the top of my head than you do, for free (and it's infinitely worse if you do not even live in the United States);
And: I've specialized in a specific kind of law, energy and environmental, and similarly, if you're asking me about a completely different subject in law, you're asking me to do copious research;
And: I can be held professionally liable by the Bar Association in my State for any advice I do give, even if I do not formally accept you or your friend as a client, so long as you accept that advice and rely upon it in making your own legal determinations;
And: We're never given the full scope of the facts necessary to actually give remotely meaningful advice anyway, even if we wanted to, because lawyers always need exponentially more facts than you'd ever assume relevant;
And: Even assuming you wouldn't dare hold me liable if my advice somehow bit your friend in the ass, you're still asking me to risk my career on a whim;
But: We come off as assholes in general to friends and family members and others we care about if we just ignore you or if we respond curtly or even if we try to explain in a sentence or two why we can't provide you free ad hoc counsel.

So like: Don't come here! Most lawyers offer a single free consultation to determine whether they'd take your case. Okay, maybe because this is small claims you're going to have go in Judge Judy style without an attorney representing you (as the attorney's fees would outpace the actual value your friend would recover) but even then, Judge Judy herself sort of acts as the impartial mediator with a modicum of expertise in the law necessary to look at all the facts and make the (usually) correct decision. So you may not even need counsel, simply presenting all the facts to a small claims judge may be enough.

I dunno how it works in Tennessee. And I'm not going to find out!!!

EDIT: I suspect you'd be in for a rough time if you asked a brain surgeon "Hey, a friend of mine's been diagnosed with ILC Type Breast Cancer, you're a doctor, can you give me some advice on what she should do to maximize her chances of going to remission for free?"
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Last edited by Solid Snake; 12-26-2016 at 09:07 PM.
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Unread 12-26-2016, 09:36 PM   #3
Daimo Mac, The Blue Light of Hope
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I am gonna preface this in saying I completely understand you and your position and if my comment comes off as being shitty, I do apologize that is not my intent. I do appreciate your response and I am sorry how I came across as that was not my intention.

Regarding the financial situation, they were all responsible for 1/3rd the rent and from my understanding she took it. The mother is not the landlord as they rent from a company.

Again, I am sorry t be a bother and my intent was not free legal action, but some advice and if they had a leg to stand on if this went to court.
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Unread 12-29-2016, 04:56 PM   #4
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Default

I'm doing this because it seems like a constructive thing to do today and weird/shitty tenants were all I knew for a bit.

Gonna quickly summarize the important bits and offer a quick word:
In Tennessee, they have 14 days to pay the rent from the rent due date on their rental contract/lease, and if they don't, it's another 16 days to get out. So they can dodge paying it for about 2 weeks which might net them a big enough couple paychecks to cover their asses, but they aren't gonna be eating well.

A standard lease agreement in Tennessee doesn't care about Co-tenants. They're all responsible for the entire sum, and the landlord does not give two quacks in the night about splitting the rent up by shares- Landlord just wants the money owed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daimo Mac
"...Alice took out the Jack and Roy's rent (700 dollars)..." "...Seeing as she is on the lease, is there anything they can do legally to get the money back..."
Alice shouldn't be touching Jack and Roy's rent money. If it was going into one joint account and she withdrew it? What she did with it has absolutely no bearing. Her mother has no role in this.

General Sessions court, $50 filing fee, Alice is sued for the money. A judge then decides if the complaint is legit. You'll need the Lease itself as proof of shared rent liability and they'll need their deposit slips from the bank to show they gave her the cash to begin with for their share. No lawyers or otherwise involved, and assuming it's a busier jurisdiction it'll be around 2 months (maybe less) before you see a judge. He then handles it, if you're lucky Alice will be legally liable to pay Jack and Roy the money back.

And that's it. Alice's mom bears no actual legal status in this detail.


THAT SAID:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daimo Mac
"... Alice's mom comes in to the apartment with two cops because she (the mom) had said that Alice was being threatened by two guys, (Jack and Roy)..."
...is called a False Report which is a class D Felony.

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://law.justia.com/codes/tennessee/2010/title-39/chapter-16/part-5/39-16-502
(a) It is unlawful for any person to:

(1) Initiate a report or statement to a law enforcement officer concerning an offense or incident within the officer's concern knowing that:

(A) The offense or incident reported did not occur;

(B) The person has no information relating to the offense or incident reported; or

(C) The information relating to the offense reported is false; or...
You didn't give any further details on it, so that's that. If they want to file a complaint about it, see where it gets them. In my experience, the entire mess will get flagged as "domestic" and the officers will wash their hands of it.

Closing: I am not a lawyer (Obviously). Based off relevant similar experience from friends living in Franklin, Tennessee, and the Landlord Tenant laws in for Tennessee as a whole; no consideration of local bylaws was given due to not knowing where they are. I have no idea who these friends of yours are, what they're doing, or how accurate anything I've said here is.
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