Monday, October 08, 2007

Local Blogger Subpoenaed for Blogging on Blighted Property

And that person is me. On Friday evening, a courier appeared at my door and handed me a subpoena from the Seventh Circuit Court on behalf of Attorney Christina Norris (Norris & Norris PLC) commanding me to appear today at 10:00 as a "Personal Service." Ms. Norris had called me a couple of weeks ago asking me to appear as a witness for her client, Doina Gherghescu, the defendant in a case brought by her father, Iunian Gherghescu, in his attempt to wrest control of the Salemtown property they jointly own from her. Thirty minutes before the start of the trial, Ms. Norris left a message for me saying that I would not have to appear until she called me.

During our first conversation, Ms. Norris told me that she read an article I wrote on the blight at the Gherghescus' apartments and she wanted to use my witness to the deteriorating conditions. She tried to assure me that helping her client win would be a way of improving conditions at the apartments and making the neighborhood better. At that time I told Ms. Norris my reservations with appearing on her clients behalf, so she moved from invitations to a subpoena.

Living in a transitional neighborhood, wisdom requires circumspection about getting tied up in a legal case over blighted property and absentee landlords. But the main reason that I initially balked at jumping into this dispute with both feet is that it has nothing to do with making the neighborhood better. It is a personal family fight for control over a property with no assurances, no written guarantees from either side that, if either wins, the blight will be cleaned up.

Ms. Gherghescu's defense against her father means nothing more to me than protecting her own claim to and her own stakes in the property. How is her possible success in court better for Salemtown? Both father and daughter have let the apartment property run-down, marring the quality of life, generating criminal activity, and maintaining an eyesore. Why should I believe that Ms. Gherghescu would change the way she has managed the property simply because she wins this case?

Neighbors tell me that the bad conditions at the Gherghescu property have been with Salemtown as far back as they can remember. So, the Gherghescus have been imposing on this community for a long time. And this week they are imposing on me personally by taking me away from my responsibilities and entangling me in what looks to me to be nothing more than their own selfish and dysfunctional struggle for control.


  1. Mike,
    You have made some assumptions in this post that aren't accurate. I'd be happy to meet with you to talk further about what's actually happening regarding this property, if you are interested. My client is interested in improving the property but she has been prevented from doing so. It's easy I guess, to assume the worst of people and their motives. Perhaps it makes a better story. But that doesn't make it the truth.
    Christina Norris

  2. What you call "assume," I would call "infer from my experience in this neighborhood." Has your client ever come to a Salemtown neighborhood association meeting and talked with other property owners about her intentions? We have had three night-outs against crime in Salemtown in the years I've been here, and I haven't seen your client participate. Has she ever attempted to join our crime watch? Has her father ever kept her from interacting with Salemtown propery-owners who have to live next to that blight?

    In the end, my experience tells me that your client has been an absentee landlord of a run-down apartment house, and that she made no effort to interact with the rest of the community until she needed to use our feedback to help her win a court case against her father. If her intentions went any deeper, so would her involvment in our community.

    I'm not assuming anything about her intentions here other than nothing will change, because she's done nothing in Salemtown to make me infer anything else about her.