Eviction Court

photo by Lauriel

by Lauren Paulson

Eviction Court

Any way you look at it, you don’t want to be there. Eviction Court. First floor of the Multnomah County Courthouse. It is a desultory place. The welcome mat is not there for you.

To get in you have to get naked. Well almost. There is a gauntlet of ten uniformed Sheriff/search/security people there to ensure you don’t bring in a bazooka. I counted them. Ten. Uniformed. Most have their ample arms crossed, gabbing.

Here are the things I had to take off to be sure I did no harm; shoes, wrist watch, belt, computer, keys, telephone, coins…and so on.

But, get in there I did only to have my heart torn out.
As I walked into room 120, there was something already
going on. A well-quaffed middle-age woman at one counsel table, an older, skinny woman with unkempt hair at the other. It seems that my hero had not gotten her mail. (When one is evicted, getting mail is an uncertain thing). Thus, the landlord threw her personal property away, but the tenant had not gotten notice: because she had not gotten her mail. The Referee–they are not real judges, said, “So sad, too bad”. Yeah, but… stuttered the aged, skinny one, she did not know the consequences and was out of touch trying to get housing somewhere. All her belongings gone.

When the reality sank in, the skinny one began to cry. No one cared. Case closed. Having just got there, I was adjusting to my surroundings and lost touch with the aged one as other cases got called.

A Repugnant, Sad Scene

The winners and losers (1% vs. 99%) are very obvious. The diverse tenants are on tenterhooks; pins and needles even. The landlords or their representatives have seen it all before and are smug, joking with each other. The Referee too.

A knot of three or four have ties on. They mill in and out, full of themselves. You know the types. They are all whispering at the Judge’s bench, smiling, looking out at the audience from time-to-time. There is a woman with five to ten files in her crooked arm sitting front and center. She, it turns out, is the legal assistant for the three or four lawyers in the room. All smiling. All looking confident. Chatting amiably.

The Skinny One Again

I had all but forgotten about the aged one by now as I went out into the hallway. I hadn’t seen her from the front, but immediately recognized her from the hair askew as she walked by. On impulse, I asked her if she knew about Legal Aid Services of Oregon located on 921 Washington St., nearby. She looked at me with beseeching eyes and asked “…isn’t it too late??” Now, I got a good look at her. She was literally crushed. She was sad beyond description. Devastated. Lost. I stammered that maybe something could be done, like an appeal. She fell almost onto my shoulder, streaming grateful tears. Her countenance and aged face are from The Grapes of Wrath. Beautiful in some sort of way. But, so torn apart. So very sad. Crushed. Her lined face contorted; eyes drowned by tears.

Eviction Court in Portland, Oregon. On any day of the week.

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  10 comments for “Eviction Court

  1. June 9, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Solidarity from Los Angeles 🙁

  2. Jill
    June 9, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Hey- I’m outraged by your story of the evicted woman having her things thrown away by her landlord. This isn’t legal in any way. Landlords are required to store any tenant’s belongings for 30 days (at the tenant’s cost if it is a result of breach of contract).
    I spent many uncomfortable hours in eviction court on the landlord side- I worked downtown as an onsite manager and had to show up for evictions when tenants didn’t pay their rent for moths or did something worthy of eviction (the eviction list is slim.) I HATED this part of my job but it paid me $500/month and gave me a place to stay!
    Tenants have SO MANY rights in the state of oregon and landlords can be true winners or downright wretches. Sadly, the poorest of our state often end up with the most abusive landlords.
    If you have this woman’s contact info, PLEASE have her call the MMHA’s helpline at 503 972-3363 (or legal aid, of course). The helpline is staffed by volunteers with long experience in the industry and are there to give assistance to tenants and landlords who are unable to decipher the legalese of landlord/tenant law. The woman you mentioned probably has a substantial legal case against her landlord.
    Funny story of things going the other way: my company required up to take hundreds of photos of any abandoned apartment because one very clever woman sued the company stating that over $10K worth of family jewels had been stored in a mason jar and subsequently tossed by a jerk manager. She won a $15K settlement 😉

    If anyone reading this is struggling with a landlord/tenant issue, please post here- I’ll do my best to help out. The admin is free to contact me if someone is in need. All my best to you!

    jill in SE

    • nick rowe
      February 10, 2013 at 11:09 PM

      there is so much to say about how my landlord(a new management company/third one in 2 months) has bullied me over a 3.5 year period as of now ,I received a notice stating I owed 600 (my rent is 500) or they were taking me to court the next week same letter stating that I owed 550 or i was going to court so i go to court , go into the hallway and now she says i owe 1800 Im confused she tells me I owe for December,January and now February rent either pay this or be evicted, to cut it short I agreed to a payment schedule 30-0 day of court 250 on feb 1st 2013,but will only receive payment in person at her office off Murray ,I live on Kane and division in Gresham. I tell her I cant do that , she said to call her if i cant. well i call 4 times on the 1st get a answering machine,Saturday the 2nd i ask the employees would take my payment they refuse,Monday the 4th i call twice in the morning no answer so i go too the post office and send it registered mail,on the 6th someone signed for it. On the 8th Friday i get home from work and there is a court order stating failure to keep agreement i have Monday to file a form and pay court costs and maybe get a trial date and i get a sheriffs lock out on the 12th I don’t know what too do I have taken Monday and Tuesday off work(lose paid days)have to come up with court costs (which i don’t have)and stand to lose all my stuff .first off how can i be is so many places (court to file , come up with the money rent a storage, move my things,pay for the fuel) Im in a situation i don’t know how to handle . I need help and and don’t know where to turn or what i should do. If I make the wrong choose I lose everything. I would be grateful for any help in this matter thank you and have a great day, NICK ROWE

    • March 28, 2016 at 9:21 AM

      Hey Jill,
      I have a doozie of a non-existant managing slumlord, he’s a bit infamous, Willie Stoudamare. The father of Damon ‘Mighty Mouse’ Stoudamare X star of the basketball team the Portland Trailblazers. Not only has Willie broken the tenant/landlord lease by entering the property unannounced time and time again but he STILL continues to show up here without a word as he wishes for hod so called ‘inspections’. He says to me when i object that he can show up whenever he wants and is very rude and condescending and whenever i try to reason with him he treats me like an abusive husband would his wife. I’ll try and make this long story short and oh boy is it long. We think he is bluffing eviction court since the house has fallen into foreclosure, auctioning on 4/16/16. We wrote him since he hasn’t been using the bill money we pay him monthly to stay current on the bills due on property, trash mainly. Leaving the trash overflowing on to the street quite regularly. Now with the auction two weeks away he appears to be squeezing money from where ever he can. We told him due to our lack of trust because of his lack of managing which is close to nothing due to how shady he has been we will pay the remainder of our rent while he still manages it with our rather large move-in deposits and our pet deposits to which he denied saying he needs money in hand and pet deposits are non-refundable, which we found out is untrue and since the house is in foreclosure any pet damage would go on to the next owners to do list, which there is none since dog is under 7lbs. He never has fixed a thing that has gone wrong nor been an active, happy landlord. He must have a vice that he tries to hide but his desperate state suggests it can not be hidden. He called my father trying to squeeze him for money and thankfully my father knew better. Part of his threat was he has gone through the process of eviction on me, scaring my elderly father and yet we have not received NOT ONE shred of paper backing this action. Willie is claiming we have eviction court on 3/29/2016 but we can not seem to find any record of this being true nor have we been served with ANY papers or even a notice of eviction. It appears everything he has done he has done wrong if he has done anything at all. I think all just in the hopes of scamming even more money and now we were told he no longer even manages this property since foreclosure papers are the only papers that have showed up here. Telling us the property owner hadn’t paid morgage since 4/14 and took out another loan against house so the bank will publicly auction it. Quite a mess….Ugh, good grief….so… My questions for you and i will make it as brief as possible is..1. How can i call his bluff and see if we are scheduled to even go to eviction court and if we are. 2. What do i do to express as well as prove how bad this man has treated me (in a very sexist manner no less, he has no respect for women). Am i not supposed to be handed paperwork saying when the case is scheduled and what are his reasons, etc. That way i am given a few days to put in my response for the judgr to read before an eviction court date is even set. 3. Can he even take us to court knowing he no longer is the acting manager for the owner of this rental, Helen Pittman owns the house which is being foreclosed on and we only know that by learning of that through papers we got in the mail and they were from their bank not Willie or Helen. When asking Willie re: foreclosure he is in denial and acts like there is no foreclosure happening at 1415 SE Main St. Portland, Or 97214. PLEASE HELP ME!!! PLEASE I AM LOST AND FEEL SO UNSAFE IN MY OWN HOUSE!!! There are SO many other offenses but shaking down my father was the last straw….. :'( Thank you kindly for your time, it is very kind of you. Best, H

    • Jill Ohle
      August 8, 2017 at 10:28 PM

      Hi Jill. My name is Jill also and im in dire need of help. My landlady just gave my belongings to the salvation army. And i mean boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of my property. All gone. I was in the middle of packing. The two days before i had a 17 ft box truck loading up. She has violated many of my rights and i want to sue asap.

    • Jill ohle
      September 24, 2017 at 1:31 AM

      Jill. If i could pissibly talk with you plz. I have an ugly situation and when that ugly situation stopped ANOTHER wierd one started and now on the tail end of that one. I stay in a garage and the lady is writing notes that on tuesday she and her husband are going to tear down the wall and lift the garage door open. We both do work for her as tent but shes not makibg any sence . i know my rights because i just went through this shit in June with someone else who threw away half my belongings. Well over 20,000 worth if my property. And there isnt even an eviction. I won in eviction court!! And now this other woman is saying i have to be out by the 15th. And then today says if i don’t clean for her she is going to tear down the wall and open the big door to the garage. I live in the garage. Help me pkz.

  3. Mindy Francis
    June 24, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I,m inneed of free legal advice close to homeless because of landlord can you PLEASE give me a # to call for Washington county? Thank you.

  4. Joel Longanecker
    June 18, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    Today I was stunned and apauled when I lost in trial at Multnomah County. My
    Agent to the landlord likes to kick people out by not giving any eviction papers at all but to break in there room, throw everything out on the curb and changes the locks. She tried this with me and failed. I merely kicked back in my door and retook tenancy. She then tried removing, stove, refrigerator, washer, and cut our cable wires and internet wires. She has repeatedly hurassed, physically attacked my disabled wife and has stolen countless items from us. We still stood our ground. She then tried using our mail that she stolecontacted our DHS worker in our custody battle and slandered us and has set back our efforts to our beloved son back. That was it! I started working on educating myself on Tennant law and lawsuit when she finally issued us with court papers with a forged 30 day noticed on the back. She collects our rent and utilities each month and uses our money to pay rent and then pays bare minimum on the utilities to pay her share. Myself and all the Tennant’s have tried and failed to get the owner to protect us from her and to regain if possible any property value 5ha5 m8ght be left on the property due to years of her destruction and neglect. She illegally rents a trailer in the back yard that drains its sceptic right under kitchen window that goes straight into
    The city run off drains that are just feet from Powell Butte Plant and wildlife reserve. She illegally rents out unfinished basement and has no smoke detectors throughout the whole house. She has 13 cats that she does not take care of their waist creating a huge health risk for all other Tennant’s. She also evicted us days after paying tent and could offer no reason why at trial. It was this and a slew of other malicious behaviors that she has been getting away with for years due to the owners blind eye. We knew that we had a perfect case legally for a retaliatory response, which I was so read up on I can recite Oregon State eviction Laws by heart. Problem however, was since I only had three days til court and 3 after that for trial, I was not able to retain a lawyer in time. I had 4 lawyers tha5 I spike with that said I had a perfect case for an otherwise normally hard case to win but unfortunately none had a gap in their schedule to defend me. So, since I was very well versed in the law, I set my sights and efforts on in 6 days learning all I could on presenting my case legally for I knew that knowing the law is one thing but presenting a case wrong or poorly will always lose an otherwise win. I did the best that I could to prepare for trial those 6 days, but it was not enough and I was destroyed by opposing council every turn and got to present only a small frac5ion of my case. I also did not have time to put two notions into the case for trial 5hat would of helped tremendously, and not enough time to subpoena the reluctant scared other Tennant’s in the house that would of been a home run with witnesses testimony to collaborate our claims and deny hers it would of gone better.
    Would I with actual representation have a claim in appeals court? We would this time have the representation, witnesses, police reports, and reports to a slew of governing agencies that found our allugations to be founded and true and have taken action against her. Or would I be better off with just going on with the lawsuit? Or should I do both? Any help will be greatly appreciated, I am 3xausted and crushed by today’s loss but my resolve is only stronger.
    Thank you.

    • Joel Longanecker
      June 18, 2015 at 5:54 PM

      I hope people can read through my typos. I am sorry just to upset and exhausted at this point and forgot to check before posting.

  5. Jeremy
    December 27, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Well, this seems the perfect place to tell my experience on the subject and expose an ugly truth that even if witnessed, is still unbelievable… My name is Jeremy. Over the last 3+ months I have endured the most illegal, unimaginable, traumatic experiences that are equal to a military vet of whom was a POW. In the time frame, the actions forced upon me were as follows….
    I was threatened by a landlord with a gun while police were present and did nothing, I had my shop broke into several times which resulted in my tools (value over $30,000) being stolen, my vehicle vandalized by employees of the company under the owners direction, my home broken into and personal property stolen, a rock thrown through my kitchen window that missed my one year old daughter by inches, my witnesses who are also tenants photographed in the courthouse (by the opposing sides attorney) which resulted in evictions being filed less than 24 hours later on them, and also put them in fear of further retaliation causing them to withdraw as witnesses, I was threatened and intimidated by a judge who has been found to be paid by the landlord, my privately hired attorney found to also be working with the landlord, I was forced by court orders to allow the same landlord allowed to enter my home while carrying his firearm that he made very clear he had, not once but on 2 occasions. I have had my family and sense of sanity stripped from me and I am left to feel unsafe and left to believe that there is no protection for human beings whatsoever. I have been violated in so many ways by this situation, I feel as though nothing can be done to protect human rights or to enforce laws that supposedly exist to prevent such actions and would hold the violators responsible. I actually won my eviction case in court. winning such cases is rare and nearly impossible. Even with my victory, the landlord continues his usual antics that he does so with no consequence. The landlord has also filed another eviction against me that is not legal and is by far premature of the 6 months required by law to take such action. I was successful in this case only through educating myself, writing my own answers, filing with the D.O.J. and having a judge dismissed and spending several weeks on end paying close attention to the actions requiring immediate attention. I have also contacted several attorneys, every state agency as well as every so called organization that supposedly helps tenants, believe me when I say they don’t exist. I am and will continue to fight this until I have absolute success. I have never felt so alone or abandoned in my entire life. I have very little hope of honest assistance with this but, I can at least dream right? if anyone cares to know more or can prove that help does exist I am open and willing to disclose more about this story along with proof of my statements.

    p.s. through this situation I have also lost my daughter and have been left by my wife. this took place at the end of October and to this day I still have not seen or talked to either of them, this made the holiday season empty and non existent for me.

    My name is Jeremy
    My # is 971 371 8754 A text message with a heads up of who you are will help as I receive hundreds of calls daily… No joke.

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