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Richard S Sternberg
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Richard Sternberg’s Answers

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  • My neighbor has agreed to extend my the right to park my car on her property (drive way). How can this be handled legally?

    I live in N.E. Washington DC. I had initially hope to purchase a small portion of her property for parking purposes. However, my neighbor would rather "allow" me parking privilages. I would be responsible for half of the cost ------paving any ...

    Richard’s Answer

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    My learned colleague is correct in that the only way to make this agreement enforceable is to draft and record it as an easement on land. If you can get the owner to agree to that, you would be utterly foolish to make this a DIY project. It'd be relatively cheap and easy for an experienced lawyer. But, I'm afraid I doubt that this will ever happen. The reason your neighbor wants to "allow" you to use her driveway is because allowing you without an easement blocks adverse possession while allowing her to stop allowing you any time she pleases.

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  • How to reinstate Letters of Admin that have expired? The estate is closed. Now unclaimed $ available. I was the administrator.

    Both parents passed away in DC. I was administrator and live in MD. Estates were closed years ago. There are unclaimed assets that cannot be collected or distributed without Letters of Administration. How can they be reinstated or get new ones?

    Richard’s Answer

    My learned colleagues from the Great State of Florida are overall correct, but I believe the question was "How" to reinstate. In DC, it will matter if this was a pre-'81, pre-95, or post-'95 estate. It will also matter whether the personal representative (the term administrator is outdated for most purposes unless this is a very old estate) is the same person as originally appointed. I can't recall without checking the forms whether there are other factors. It may matter if you were an "executor" -- a PR appointed by a Will -- or an "administrator" -- appointed by the Court in an intestate estate. If it is one of the easier variants, it is a matter of a simple motion to reopen. At its worst, you will need to re-petition exactly as you would have opened the estate, but with the word "Reopen" printed or typed into the caption. There may then be issues of bond and renunciations or priority to serve as PR. You should discuss this with a qualified lawyer, but if you insist, you might at least, make notes of all the relevant facts and then sit down with a deputy clerk in the Probate office to review your plan for filing.

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  • Would I able Sue us embassy for Negligence? I was Arrested in the Dominican Republic. and got very little help. i'm a US citizen

    spent 11 months in jail. with no trail.in almost no help from the embassy.

    Richard’s Answer

    You almost certainly can't sue the US Embassy. It is extremely unlikely that you can sue the US Government at all for its discretionary acts in the Dominican Republic. It is just vaguely possible that you could sue the Dominican Republic in the US for acts by its sovereign, but I'd need to know much more fact, and, even then, it's unlikely. You need to tell the whole, real story to a qualified lawyer.

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  • I’m seeking legal advice to make a claim for Adverse Possession / Squatters Rights in The District of Columbia.

    The Lease contract with the Option to purchase was negotiated by The Housing Provider, property manager, or other agent of the Housing Provider in Bad Faith. As a legal tenant my TOPA Rights were violated. No interested party has come forw...

    Richard’s Answer

    It is very hard for me to understand your question or the facts you are presenting, but it may help you to know that the statute of limitations for land claims in the District of Columbia (also referred to as the adverse possession time) is 15 years. The first nine isn't enough.

    Next, you probably have no rights other than your contractual rights if you are a legal tenant or have a TOPA right. To be an adverse possessor, you need to possess, openly, adversely, continuously, and hostilely for the requisite 15 years. A tenant is rarely a hostile, adverse possessor to his landlord if the landlord gave you permission to possess.

    Your TOPA rights may be immensely more complex. You need to review that with counsel before you cease being a tenant.

    If you still think you have a case, you should seek a consult with a qualified lawyer to discuss it.

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  • How can I subpoena a witness who is located in VA for a civil trial in DE?

    have a civil case against Valvoline in DE for damage to vehicle during oil change. Car broke down in MD and was towed by GEICO. GEICO adjuster believed Valvoline caused damage by replacing wrong oil filter. JP Trial is scheduled for 1/27/14 and...

    Richard’s Answer

    You have your work cut out for you, and you are probably out of time. The Delaware Court has no sovereignty to issue a subpoena to a Virginia resident. Unless the Virginian comes to Delaware to accept service (or on the drive to New York), you can't get him in Delaware. What you can do is depose him de bene esse (for trial purposes) in Virginia, and you need to file a special type of case to do that. The Delaware court issues documents indicating that there is a Delaware case; the Virginia court issues a subpoena for an appearance in the county where the deponent lives; and the deposition is scheduled with notices to all parties before a court reporter.

    It would be wise to have Delaware counsel make sure that the request from Delaware complies with Delaware evidence law, because anything less will likely result in the deposition or statement being excluded in limine. It is, after all, hearsay, and you are reaching for an exception to hearsay. It wouldn't be a bad idea to have a Virginia lawyer shepherd it through Virginia, though I recently successfully used a process server to accomplish the same in two counties of Florida.

    All of this needs to happen before the Delaware court's deadline for discovery or de bene esse discovery.

    Good luck. Maybe you can continue the trial and get some help getting it done.

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  • The date of my court trial I was rushed to the emergency room to have a procedure the procedure was caused by the stress of the

    good lawyers are very proclaiming the judges are very prejudice and have entered void judgmentsI had nine court appearances in 7 months only missed that one I also brought medical documentation excusing me for that day and the nextI've had encount...

    Richard’s Answer

    Sounds to me like you need a lawyer, but it also sounds like you had one. Have you asked him or her to explain and provide you with options?

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  • Want to stop my grandchild's father from coming to my house. his visitation orders says he's not to come, but he won't stop.

    I call the police but he just keeps coming. He and my daughter has a neutral meeting place to drop off and pick up their child. But he comes to my house whenever he feels like it. I feel so lost and harassed in my own home, like i'm helpless and c...

    Richard’s Answer

    If there is a protective order against the father visiting, the police should be enforcing that when he arrives. If they don't, call the station captain. If the order merely binds the other parties, you need to get the order modified or get a new civil protection order. If he hasn't done anything to merit a new protective order keeping him off your property, you might try consulting an attorney about noticing him against trespass.

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  • If someone pays taxes on an abandoned property can they take possession ?

    abandoned property hooked up yo my well

    Richard’s Answer

    No. This is one of my favorite fictions in the Lore of the Law, second only to the predominently Southern concept or Heir Property. Sometimes, if you pay the taxes and a court 21 years later finds that you were still possessing the property openly and adversely, continuously and hostilely to its true owner (and, I'd suggest that paying the taxes means it isn't hostile if the owner knows of it), then you'd have adverse possession after you sued to quiet title. If the title owner claimed it back before the Limitations period, you could sue to get back whatever you had had paid in the last few years. The rest would be beyond the statute of limitations, so you'd have no enforceable right to get it back.

    Finally, your premise is wrong. Ever since the Domesday Book scribed around 1066 CE at the command of William the Conqueror, there is no ownerless, abandoned real property. If it is ignored and unattended long enough, it escheats to the State. In more modern terms, it gets sold for taxes.

    But, if you move onto the property, fence it, farm or house it, defend it, and the taxes have been paid, then, many, many years from now, after you pay someone like me, it might be yours. That's called adverse possession.

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  • In Washington DC can you ask a small business To Vacate in 31 days (Xerox paper no letter head) without the courts involvement?

    My family has a small business at the same location for the past 26 years. Last month one of my employees provided a family member with a 31 Vacate Notice. I have not received any type of notice prior to the one provided by an employee (11/22). Th...

    Richard’s Answer

    You REALLY need a lawyer, and you need one NOW before you say and do things that will muck up a perfectly lovely and fun case. I started my career thirty years ago with a case that sounded much like this, and it is still one of my favorites after all these years. Stop doing anything. Pay only what your lease says. Do exactly what your lease says. Sit down with a decent DC-barred lawyer who knows how to play in DC L&T court. It'll cost less than the proper rent, and it could result in you being bought out of your lease.

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  • I sued the city District of Columbia and we settled at out at mediation, how long do they have to send issue the money.

    The time frame was not listed in the settlement papers on when they will issue the money. How long normally does the District of Columbia goverment takes to issue the money. i signed the W9 and other papers that the District sent to my lawyer.

    Richard’s Answer

    If you have a lawyer representing you in the matter, the proper and best thing for you to do is to ask that lawyer. None of us are permitted to interfere with your attorney-client relationship other than to advise you that you need to talk to your lawyer.

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