Friday, September 3, 2010

Schaumberg, Illinois Cluttered Lawn Case Jury Picked

A jury has been selected in the Village of Schaumberg's prosecution of the local resident with the cluttered lawn.  Here's the Chicago Tribune's account:

"Opening statements will begin this afternoon in the unusual trial-by-jury of the Schaumburg man cited for piles of clutter and garbage on his yard and inside his home.

John Wuerffel, 62, is representing himself in the case to determine if he violated several ordinances relating to the condition of his property. Attorneys have said a village ordinance has never progressed to a jury trial. The village is seeking a court order to clean up Wuerffel’s home, which contains numerous bottles, cans and other such items. It would be the third such clean-up by the village since 2008.

Wuerffel faces a fine, but his main objection is village workers taking his property and hauling it away.  Wuerffel has been living in a van on his driveway since he was locked out of his house during a foreclosure process. Although the lock has been removed, he continues to live outside because the house has no utilities. This morning, Wuerffel and village attorneys picked a 12-person jury, plus two alternate jurors, at the Rolling Meadows courthouse. He sat at the defense table with a black crow figurine, apparently a good luck charm, beside him.

He mostly asked prospective jurors if they were prejudiced against those with disabilities or long hair. Wuerffel has long hair and has said he is bipolar.  His neighbors in the 1400 block of Hampton Lane are expected to testify on behalf of the village this afternoon, and village attorneys are seeking to take the jury to see the property. The judge has yet to approve that.

Wuerffel said he will not call any witnesses, but he could testify. He is not entitled to a public defender because the matter is not a criminal case with the possibility of jail.  The trial is expected to conclude today or tomorrow."
How sad.  This pathetic situation is another one of those circumstances that give me pause, is this the only way to intervene on behalf of Mr. Wuerffel.  Maybe? 

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