Letters From Our Readers

Letters From Our Readers: Rogue tenant control

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Rogue tenant control

When Landlords Pay,” Winter 2019-2020, page 18, makes the statement, “The law doesn’t say landlords need to act like cops.”

That is exactly the type of duty this action seeks to impose on landlords, except the landlords have no police powers. There are very strict laws governing evictions. Some municipalities—Chicago is one—impose a duty to evict a tenant engaged in criminal activity and seek to impose such a duty even in the absence of any conviction.

Like it or not, we have a presumption of innocence in the USA. Requiring a landlord to evict tenants—a landlord’s only real remedy—absent a criminal conviction simply seeks to shift a burden from criminal authorities to landlords.

Not only is this unworkable, but some municipalities seeking to impose this duty are less than cooperative when it comes to having police come to court to testify that a law has been broken. If a law has been allegedly broken and the landlord knows about it, the landlord’s sole duty should be to report the allegation to the police and provide lawful cooperation for any follow-up.

Earl Weiss
Skokie, Illinois

Taking issue with Garner

I disagree with the advice given in Bryan A. Garner’s column, “Point Taken,” September-October, page 32. In my view, one should almost never repeat, quote or summarize her adversary’s argument before refuting it. The adversary already stated his argument in his papers.

To me, there is nothing less convincing than, “The adverse party argues X. This is wrong.” I would say instead: “The adverse party’s contention regarding X ignores the fact that” or “ignores the controlling case that holds” or just “is logically inconsistent and falls of its own weight.”

With all deference to Charles Alan Wright, instead of:

“Louisiana attributes to the district court findings that the district court never made. On page 1 of its brief, and again on pages 3 and 32, Louisiana contends that the district court found that Stack Island had ‘washed away entirely’ or ‘disappeared.’ In fact, the district court never made any such finding. The reference cited by Louisiana is to the portion of the trial judge’s opinion that stated Louisiana’s position. The truth of the matter is that the district court rejected Louisiana’s position and made exactly the opposite finding: ‘The court does not accept the theory of the Louisiana parties.’ ”


Louisiana’s contentions to the contrary notwithstanding, the district court never found that Stack Island had ‘washed away entirely’ or ‘disappeared.’ Rather, Louisiana’s quotations are from the portion of the trial judge’s opinion that summarized Louisiana’s position, which the court then rejected.”

In short, do not tell the judge your adversary’s points (perhaps better or at least more succinctly than your adversary did). Make yours.

David Parker
New York City

Journal feedback

I continue to love the content of the ABA Journal and always find it useful. I also think it makes sense to reduce frequency of publication. I don’t care for the new size, especially the width, which is very annoying.

Barbara G. Stephenson
Albuquerque, New Mexico

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