Monday, September 14, 2009

Mary Cummins gives expert testimony in legal real estate case

LA Weekly. "Jimmy on the edge of town."

"Mary Cummins, a longtime real estate assessor, has independently deduced that he is, indeed, on county-owned land. But she questions whether or not Union Pacific issued a valid citation for trespassing. If Jimmy is living on county-owned property edging the railroad spur, Cummins’ logic goes, then the railroad company may not be able to charge him with “trespassing” on the railroad’s “private property” or of “lodging without [their] permission.”

As an expert real estate assessor for more than 25 years in the Los Angeles area, Cummins knows how to read tract maps. Just recently, for example, she was hired to testify in court over a major real estate dispute at the Ambassador Hotel. Feral-cat activist Muzika started looking into Jimmy’s case, and he asked Cummins, a friend from animal-rights circles, to help.

Cummins, who normally charges $100 per hour for her expertise, took up Jimmy’s cause for free. She looked up Jimmy’s location on Google Earth, found an L.A. County Assessor’s map, and placed the Google map on top of the county’s map. “You can clearly see Jimmy’s on the L.A. County flood-control channel” land, Cummins says. She is also “absolutely certain,” and would testify in court, that Jimmy is on county-owned property, not the railroad’s.

Cummins sent her findings to Muzika, who e-mailed the maps information to Councilman Smith’s office, and alerted the city attorney at Jimmy’s court hearing on July 1 in the Los Angeles Superior Court in the small town of San Fernando, in the far northeast Valley.

In court that day, the prosecutor handling the case, Apraham Atteukenian, looked surprised when Muzika, with Jimmy near his side, offered up the disputed land-ownership evidence. It’s clearly very basic land-ownership homework that Los Angeles city prosecutors should have done before hauling a man into court for trespassing on railroad property. The prosecutor promised to “make some calls.” Jimmy is defending himself pro per, having dumped a Los Angeles County public defender who advised him to plead guilty to trespassing against Union Pacific. Jimmy is now facing trial August 3, yet, Cummins says, even now, the city attorney and Smith’s office have not responded to her finding that Jimmy is not on railroad land."

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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