Court supports BHA ability to evict or terminate tenants on drug charges before those cases go to court
The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled today a police report was good enough evidence with which to terminate a Section 8 voucher even if the materials found in an apartment had yet to be tested in a state drug lab for confirmation they were drugs.
The ruling comes in the case of Tina Seales, a Dorchester woman whose Section 8 voucher a Boston Housing Authority hearing officer revoked after police followed a suspected drug dealer into her Drayton Avenue apartment in July, 2013 and found what a police report said sure looked like crack and marijuana.
The BHA hearing officer ruled the presence of drugs in the apartment violated Seales' voucher agreement and stopped her subsidy. Seales had argued that neither she nor her children knew the guy, that he left the drugs in her apartment and that her daughter only opened the door for him after she heard the commotion outside and thought he was the police when he knocked. She also argued that she'd had a Section 8 voucher for 15 years with no problems and that ending it would cause severe trouble for her and her family because two of her three children have disabilities.
A Housing Court judge overturned the BHA decision, saying the police report was inadmissible hearsay evidence because of the lack of actual drug testing.
n its ruling today, the appeals court said Massachusetts courts, and by extension agencies with court-like powers - in this case the BHA - can accept hearsay evidence when it contains "substantial indicia of reliability," such as coming from somebody willing to provide his or her name about something they had personally witnessed and who has proven to have some expertise on the matter
The police report, written by a BPD sergeant, met both criteria, the justices wrote.
In focusing on what the police officer believed but did not conclusively state, the judge improperly discounted both the reliability inherent in a detailed police incident report, as well as the hearing officer's permissible inferences regarding the details in the report. The police report here, combined with a commonsense understanding that this police sergeant would have the training and experience to identify illegal drugs, was sufficient to support an inference and finding that the substances in Seales's apartment were correctly identified as crack cocaine and marijuana.
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So much for innocent until
So much for innocent until proven guilty.
im with you on this
Tell that to this bimbo's
I agree with you, however the
I agree with you, however the problem is with the language in the lease, and not the court ruling. The lease contained a rather standard clause to "refrain from engaging in any criminal or illegal activity in the rental Premises." The police report of evidence of drugs was considered sufficient evidence that such activity was taking place, just like if a credible neighbor had complained or if the landlord had witnessed the activity himself. If you were living in an apartment with a problematic neighbor and you complained to your landlord that they were violating a clause of the lease, I would think you would want the landlord to act on your complaint rather than waiting on some lengthy outside process to fully adjudicate it.
The different here is that we're not dealing with private landlords/leases/tenants but programs administered by the government with taxpayer funds. Therefore the same due-process rights that one has when dealing with the government in other contexts should apply here. The solution to this would be require that such due-process requirements be written into leases involved in these programs, for example clauses like the one here would have to say "upon conviction" and that a stay pending appeal also stays the eviction/termination process.
good job by the court on this
good job by the court on this one
I know what she means
I hate it when random people knock on my door and throw crack into my house. Its the worst!
15 years on Section 8, maybe it time you step up to the plate and be an adult.
Same old story
The woman says that she didn't know the guy and he just left his stuff in her place. Sounds like the old, "The drugs/cigarettes/gun/etc isn't mine, I was just holding it for my friend."
When is 15 years on public assistance
a helping hand and when is it a lifestyle?
I laugh at the hypocrisy of the name of the Department of Transitional Assistance.
Department of Eternal
Department of Eternal Assistance.
it would be nice
if people recognized the scary fact that a person can lose their home without being convicted of a crime
i wonder how different the response would be here if it was a ruling that a HOA or regular landlord had the ability to evict without convict
in fact, i would like any person that agrees with this ruling to just come out and say whether they believe in innocence before guilt as a concept of our justice system or not
I'm with you
Think back on the reports of cops who were domestic abusers or DUI-ers or drug dealers or other bad actors. It's in no way a large number of cops, but imagine if one of them was pissed at his girlfriend or a witness, etc. and planted drugs or made a false report. Now the victim, possibly with children, looses their current housing and their ability to afford a new place. Later the bad cop is caught but the victim is still screwed because their old place now belongs to someone else and affordable housing waitlists are years long.
That's just Tide and loose-leaf tea in all those plastic zip-loc bags...
and then we have a person here who literally thinks its ok to potentially ruin lives over literal guesswork because why should evidence actually be tested before we make a move that could make somebody homeless and break up families.
you are literally willing to potentially break up families and put people on the street rather than actually prove that a crime has been committed. man it is going to bug the shit out of you when the government more fully begins to realize that its war on drugs is a miserable failure and it starts treating the epidemic as a health care issue and not a criminal one.
Are most definitely a health care issue. Dealers, on the other hand, which is what we're dealing with here, are a totally different story.
no matter what
is that you should be
it is also worth mentioning that dealers are 100% a symptom of the failed policy known as war on drugs. this aint this country's first rodeo with prohibition.
Okay but the ruling was
Okay but the ruling was whether the BHA had to wait for lab results confirming the drugs were in fact drugs before stopping the voucher. In your hypothetical, the crooked cop would presumably be planting real drugs anyway, so I'm not sure this ruling really changes anything in the situation you described.
HOA or Regular Landlord
First with an HOA you have ownership of the unit. Secondly, as a section-8 recipient she has a regular landlord. The above doesn't say she being evicted, its says tax payers will no longer be paying her rent.
Don't bite the hand that feeds you!
effectively you don't think a person is innocent until proven guilty?
You entitled to a fair trail, not free housing.
And Section 8 is not free housing. It's a subsidy.
Many people lose their homes without being convicted of crimes
when they haven't paid their rent or mortgages.
But you're probably only talking about the ones living for free on the taxpayers. Most anybody can identify weed without a chemical analysis or deduce that a tossed handgun wrapped in a shirt likely came from the shirtless guy.
Section 8 is not "living for free".
30% of 0
Is 0, last time I checked.
you shitstained elitist bigot, i was referring to people losing a benefit for a crime they aren't even legally guilty of committing yet.
i know that when it comes to the browns, blacks, yellows, poors, or bicyclists that you hardly consider them human but the idea that somebody could lose a state benefit for something they're legally innocent of is pretty abhorrent to me. when they're no longer able to afford rent and become homeless and then end up on all sorts of other state benefits i wonder what your solution will be then.
honestly just come right out and admit that you wish you could erect a concentration camp for anybody you felt didn't fit your mold of a perfect citizen
or even better, if there is a family involved and then kids end up in the system for a crime that has yet to be legally committed. do some cost:benefit analysis if you're going to hate on people, or just admit that you're elitist and racist and dont want to share the world with people who dont fit your cookie cutter
How about these guys? Feel the same?
They were living with their mom in public housing in violation of the lease. Should she lose her apartment? Those boys are not convicted either.
In both cases, lease terms are being violated, but they aren't black and getting free legal aid to appeal.
In this case, Seales with 3 daughters, aged 16, 17, 19, and one of the daughters was associated with the drugs. Seales also had an unspecified number of multiple male children not living with her, Seales or the government should be collecting child support.
i do feel the same
because they are innocent, until they aren't. that is how this works. it is really simple. i believe in the inherent decency of a system that presumes innocence over guilt, always, and you seemingly don't.
Eh? That happens all the time
Eh? That happens all the time. Landlords do not need a conviction of an actual crime to kick a tenant out; all they have to do is violate the lease. The "illegal activities" clause in a typical lease does not have a higher standard of proof than any of the other typical eviction clauses landlords put in there, like nonpayment of rent, being a nuisance to neighbors, assigning/subletting without permission, or damaging the property. Evictions go through a civil court process where the standard of evidence is either "clear and convincing" (typically described as 75% likely) or "preponderance" (more likely than not) not "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Someone down the street from me was just kicked out of their apartment for drug use - the landlord repeatedly saw their heroin needles in the trash. He didn't need to have them arrested and wait for them to be convicted.
Housing court judge
It was a housing court judge, not superior court. And he was trying to circumvent well established case law that says that housing authorities conducting administrative hearings (Section 8 terminations) can rely on drug certs rather than require police officer testimony.
Nobody's rights are being violated here. The BHA has no subpoena power at it's admin hearings, so not overturning the housing court's ruling would have made it impossible to terminate Section 8 subsidy participants who engaged in drug related criminal activity.
Thanks; reference fixed.