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Federal judge has had enough of Dorchester eyesore owner's legal shenanigans

For the third time, a federal judge has rejected an effort by the owner of the fire-ravaged building at 97 Mt. Ida Rd. to move his case from state Housing Court to federal court - this time with a warning for the man to knock it off.

Boston's Inspectional Services Department and James Dickey, who lives in Sudbury, have been battling for years over Dickey's property. ISD now wants permission from a Housing Court judge to just raze what's left of the boarded-up eyesore as a threat to public health and safety - neighbors complain it is infested with rats - and to then dun Dickey for the cost.

Dickey, in turn, has managed to keep winning delays in court as what's left of the structure continues to fall apart. Last year, he moved, for the second time, to have the Housing Court case transferred to US District Court in Boston. That won him a three-month reprieve while a federal judge considered the case before deciding the case belonged in local housing court and sent it back.

A housing-court judge was scheduled to consider the case in January, but called off the hearing because Dickey once again moved to transfer the case to federal court, alleging a conspiracy among city and Housing Court officials to deprive black Bostonians of their federal civil rights somehow.

In a ruling on Tuesday, US District Court Judge Richard Stearns sent the case back to Housing Court again and warned Dickey to stop showing "complete disregard of prior court orders" and leave the federal court system out of it:

Accordingly, this court warns Dickey that any further frivolous filings in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts - whether removals or Complaints - will result in an injunction barring him from filing without prior permission of the court.



and to then dun Dickey for the cost.

Dun Dickey sounds like a rap song component... or perhaps an Irish ditty.

I like it.

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Dickey Dunne was probably the greatest hockey announcer of all time. As Paul Newman said if Dickie Dunne said it, it must be true.


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Often, people file a court case in hopes of getting sympathetic (even slightly nutty) judge. The odds are low, but there are essentially no consequences except legal fees.

Mr. Dickey lost his gamble.

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He's never going to win a case, he just wants to delay things for some unknown reason. Maybe he thinks the property will keep appreciating enough to cover his fees plus make him a hefty sum? Maybe he just hates the neighbors?

For better or worse the American legal system allows this. The courts are slow and even if they find the against you that's still a win if all you want is a delay. Just filling a case buys him months even if the case is dismissed.

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The Massachusetts legal system.

See "rotting tree", below.

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From Adam's last story about this dickhead:

He alleges his rights are being violated by a conspiracy involving the city and housing-court officials to "seize and sell property owned by African-Americans to friends of the court, for pennies on the dollar." Dickey is white, however.
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When my parents had a rotting tree and my mother refused to let it be cut down, the City of Portland gave them one month to take care of it or they would come onto the property and remove it and charge them or put a lien on the propety.

(Rightfully so! It was dangerous!)

Other cities don't dickey around with this - they give notice and get it done.

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This guy obviously has a sufficient handle on how to work the legal system to drag this out. He also doesn't mind spending a few bucks to make the filings needed to keep this IN the courts. With all due respect, I bet your parents didn't file a million briefs and play the race card.

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The city had actual authority to go on the property and cut down the tree. It was an imminent safety hazard, and that's all that needed to be done.

They might have claimed damages after the fact, but they would not have been able to stop the removal. Ditto for demolition of dangerous premises - once a building is condemned, the clock starts. If you don't take care of it, the city will.

Then again, people don't get to claim that their property rights override zoning on other people's property there, either. It gets down to variation in state and local laws and authority of city agencies.

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I am currently doing battle with ISD and the city about an abandoned house on my street in Roxbury. I first starting complaining about it last summer--ISD came and found that it was in violation of the state sanitary code (large holes in the roof, animals have made themselves very comfortable inside, etc). They left a ticket on the fence in front of the house...it sat there for a few months until it blew away. The house is abandoned. No one claims it. The BWSC took the property in 2011 for unpaid water bills. I sent additional complaints to ISD, and various other departments at the city but no one seems to want to do anything other than issue a ticket.

The building is literally inches away from each of its neighbors, is home to what I imagine is a spectacular rodent graveyard, and is being flooded every time it rains thanks to the lack of roofing. Parts of the house are blowing off and falling on the street in the wind. I think of this case as my nightmare every time I contact the city and wonder just HOW to get the city to board up the home before the thing collapses on top of all of us. I feel like everywhere else there are clear options but the city of Boston makes it incredibly difficult to do anything about abandoned housing. And yet if they did compel the owner to sell or take the land, it would be scooped up in an instant. One more house that sits vacant while we are in the midst of a housing shortage in the city.

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How is Dickey's mental health? I'm sincere and serious in asking this, by the way. I'm starting to think it's deteriorating. Yet he's crazy enough like a fox to know exactly what to do to keep delaying the case and winning the same. Not sure if he's capable of being a responsible property owner. That'll be his next case. Mentally Incapacitated with Doctor's Notes to Prove It, Judge.

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