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We shouldnít have to foot the bill

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 9th, 2013

Ed Close

I witnessed something the other day that simply upset me. It was a case in court, but what I saw was an argument between neighbors. I donít cover civil matters in my court reporting and, in my opinion, I shouldnít have been covering this case. Rather than write this case up in the normal way, I decided it should be brought to light in my column, where I have the opportunity to voice my opinions.

It seems there was a difference of opinion about a section of road with a curve in it, a blind curve. He said, you said, they said came into play, and the case ended up being settled before a judge.

Hereís what upset me: The case was in criminal court ó not civil court ó because these neighbors couldnít settle this on their own. One filed a police report instead of alerting his insurance company or hiring a lawyer on his own. Iím sure the insurance company would have waded right in there, and they have plenty of lawyers.

Anyway, the other party decided to defend himself, and thatís perfectly fine by me. But what all this caused for a $500 settlement was the public paid the wages of a prosecuting attorney, the wages of the clerks who had to file all the paperwork, the wage of a court recorder who, by law, had to get the whole thing down word for word, and the wages of a judge.

Neither the defendant nor the accused had to pay for any of that, except perhaps $40 in court costs. We, the residents of Uinta County, paid for that ó all of it.

We paid out thousands of dollars because neither of the parties involved wanted to go out and spend their own money to hire a lawyer. In my opinion, thatís just wrong. I believe the entire bill for every ounce of that case should have been split right down the middle and handed to the two parties involved. I donít believe any of us should have our tax dollars spent on some neighborhood dispute over who did what on some county road.

If you have a problem with your neighbor, hire a lawyer. Pay your own way and donít hand the bill to the rest of us. We have enough bills of our own ó we donít need yours.

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