Letter to the Editor

Sep 22nd, 2011 | By admin | Category: Opinion

Injustice in the Courtroom

Editor’s Note:

This letter is Mayor Mike Robertson’s response to an article published  Saturday in the Ark. Democrat Gazette regarding the week-long trial in federal court by 14 groups of homeowners from the Windwood Meadows subdivision (Birchwood, Tori and April streets in Windwood) who claimed that the Union Pacific Railroad Corp. were responsible for their homes flooding twice in 2009 and once this past May. Mayor Robertson had to give a deposition and attended the trial in Little Rock  U. S. District Court with Judge Brian Miller presiding. The plaintiffs were represented by attorney James Swindoll of Little Rock. Union Pacific was represented by attorney Joseph McKay of the Little Rock firm Friday, Eldredge & Clark.

Why is there so much injustice in the court system?  Attorneys are not held to the same high standards as the witness therefore many guilty parties walk away free and clear.

A witness is called before a judge and jury to testify.  Before a witness is placed on the stand the witness must stand before the judge or judge and jury raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth the whole truth nothing but the truth.  The injustice begins there and in many cases the whole truth is never heard by the judge and jury.  Why?  The attorneys on the case do not have to swear to tell the truth.  The attorney can lie, twist words, tell half the story the attorney is paid to defend their client at all cost.  The attorney is paid to get the guilty party off. There are those attorneys who hold to ethical practice and those who will accept money in exchange for spilled blood.

Land surrounding Windwood Subdivision adjacent to Union Pacific railroad bed once was farmed raising bean crops.  Today the land is not suitable for farming crops.

During the construction of the railroad tracks 7 trestles or bridges were constructed between Ward and Beebe.  Many of these bridge openings were over 100 feet in length.  These openings were designed to allow rainwaters running into the bayou and slough to run along the railroad bed and though these opening and flow downstream to Cypress Bayou.  These 100-foot bridges were designed for additional growth of the surrounding area to carry additional water for years into the future.

Over a period of years 2 of the 7 bridges in excess of 100 foot each in length has burned out.  Union Pacific railroad chose to fill over 200 foot of Drainage Bridge in with gravel rather than make necessary repairs to the once existing bridges.  Any reasonable person will say you can pour more water though a 6-inch hole than a 3-inch hole in a shorter length of time. Why was the bridges engineered, designed and built if not needed?

Can a city prohibit construction in a flood plain?  Government officials have told us the city cannot prohibit the landowner the use of his land.

A City may join the National Flood Insurance program to allow homeowners who purchase within a floodplain the opportunity to purchase flood insurance though the National “Flood Insurance Program.  The city of Beebe is a member of the NFIP.

A city may pass an ordinance providing for the establishment of a flood damage prevention program for the city.  The city may adopt a flood prevention code regulating construction within a flood hazard area.

The city of Beebe adopted an ordinance and code of regulations in 2003.  Does the adoption of this ordinance and regulations assure homeowners houses will not flood? No. On rare occasions greater floods will occur and flood heights may be increased by man-made or natural causes. The ordinance does not imply that land outside the areas of special flood hazards or uses permitted within such area will be free from flooding or flood damages.  This ordinance shall not create liability on the part of the community or any official or employee thereof for any flood damages that result from reliance on this ordinance or any administrative decision lawfully made thereunder.

The attorney for Union Pacific railroad turned the blame on city officials from 1975 to present rather than have a jury believe removal of over 200 foot of bridge water outlets could be defined as flooding caused from flood heights increased by manmade causes.

The Union Pacific railroad attorney used snippets of deposition rather than allowing the jury the opportunity to hear the entire answer of the person being questioned.  The attorney used computer television screen to show only a few words of a witness deposition to twist the truth rather than allow the whole truth to be told as sworn to tell then prohibited the witness the right to tell the truth approaching the bench to disallow, using yes or no question trickery such as “do you believe construction should be allowed within a flood plain?”  If you answer yes then he could say so you believe it is ok to build homes to be flooded.  Answer No, he could say than why has homes been built within the flood plain.  The witness may attempt to explain only to be stopped with that was a simple yes or no question.

Though I was not mayor in 2003 when the city adopted a flood prevention ordinance or 2000 when a flood base elevation was established for Windwood Meadows documents show the developer did follow acceptable government regulations to establish a base flood elevation that had not been established by FEMA.  The mayor then later revised the base flood elevation regulation to yet a higher height at which most all homes were constructed to or higher.  FEMA later in 2005 established the base flood elevation to the current 220 level. FEMA has established a 220 level that will most likely flood homes built at that elevation in Windwood Meadows if more opening is not reconstructed along the railroad.

It makes be mad when the witness is sworn to tell the truth the whole truth and is restricted by practice of an attorney hired by big money to prevent the truth from being revealed at the detriment of hard working people.  I feel for the victim and our police officers that bring drug dealers, child molesters or murderer before the court just to watch them walk away because of a twisted truth of a defense attorney.

While federal government is revising health care and social security just maybe it wouldn’t be bad to revise the judicial system and give rights back to law-abiding citizens rather than protecting the rights of the offender at all costs.

Injustice occurs each day in the courtroom by those seeking big money rather than seeking the truth.

Thank God for those who defend our right attempting to reveal the righteous truth.