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Landlord advocacy groups filed a special action with the Arizona State Supreme Court Wednesday seeking to invalidate as unconstitutional Gov. Doug Ducey's moratorium on evictions of people who have missed rent payments because they became ill or lost their income due to the coronavirus.

The Arizona Multihousing Association, the Manufactured Housing Communities of Arizona and several individual property owners filed the action directly with the high court. It argues the moratorium violates the state constitution's separation of powers and its contract clause.

The multihousing association's president and CEO Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus says owners have waived fees, worked with renters to make payments, and helped them fill out government relief applications.

But five months after the moratorium was first imposed “we are at a breaking point,” she said, noting that property owners also have mortgages, taxes and other bills to pay.

She said rental housing is the only area of the state economy that has been compelled to provide a product or service free of charge during the pandemic. Ducey signed the moratorium order on March 24 and recently extended it until Oct. 31.

There was no immediate reaction from the governor's office to the court filing, which named the state and several justices of the peace and constables from around Arizona who are charged with serving eviction notices.

Arizona’s initial 120-day moratorium ending July 22 was supposed to ensure people wouldn’t lose their homes if they got COVID-19 or lost their jobs during pandemic restrictions. But advocates argued it was too early to end the ban because most of the government money set aside to help pay rents and mortgages still hasn’t been doled out.

The Arizona Housing Department still has a backlog of people trying to get rental assistance. Gregory Real Estate Management of Phoenix in July sued Ducey over the moratorium and asked that it be allowed to evict a family in a rental home in the city of Surprise over unpaid rent, which the firm says has passed $8,000.

But a Maricopa County Superior Court judge upheld the moratorium and disagreed with the company's argument that the governor’s action exceeded his authority or was unconstitutional. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. Pandemic restrictions, such as reducing capacity or closing businesses, are intended to limit crowds that can spread the virus.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court says the city of Sheboygan properly annexed land for a Kohler Co. golf course. The company wants to convert nearly 250 acres in the Town of Wilson in Sheboygan County for the course.

The Sheboygan Common Council passed an ordinance annexing the land on Kohler's behalf in 2017. The town sued, arguing the land isn't contiguous to the city and the city abused its discretion.

The court ruled unanimously Friday that the annexation was proper, finding the land shares a 650-foot boundary with city land and the city wanted the land to expand housing.



A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his luxury Washington hotel, handing Trump a significant legal victory Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the ruling of a federal judge in Maryland who said the lawsuit could move forward.

The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia sued in 2017, claiming Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel. The case is one of three that argue the president is violating the provision, which prohibits federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

In the case before the 4th Circuit, the court found the two jurisdictions lack standing to pursue their claims against the president, and granted a petition for a rare writ of mandamus, directing U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte to dismiss the lawsuit.

Trump heralded the decision in a tweet, saying, "Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt." Trump tweeted that he doesn't make money but loses "a fortune" by serving as president.


North Carolina Republicans have been dealt another setback in their efforts to remove a state Supreme Court candidate's party affiliation from the ballot.

The state Court of Appeals declined Monday to hear the request of GOP legislative leaders to block a lower court's order that candidate Chris Anglin be listed as a Republican on the November ballot.

A trial court judge this month halted enforcement of a new law removing party designations next to the names of Anglin and a few other judicial candidates because they had switched their affiliation too close to filing.

Anglin was a registered Democrat until three weeks before he filed to run. He says the law unfairly targeted him.

The state Supreme Court could still step in, but time is dwindling before ballots must be printed.


Rhode Island's highest court heard arguments Tuesday in a fight that has pitted dozens of members of the Vanderbilt family against a nonprofit that owns several Gilded Age mansions in Newport.

The nonprofit Preservation Society of Newport County wants to build a visitors center on the grounds of The Breakers, a spectacular mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Dozens of preservationists, as well as designer Gloria Vanderbilt and nearly four dozen Vanderbilt relatives, have said the center as planned would "permanently mar" the national historic landmark.

Two members of the Vanderbilt family attended Tuesday's arguments before the Rhode Island Supreme Court over two separate lawsuits. But the arguments involved zoning and licensing issues raised by neighbors and the city, not the family's objections and the question of whether the center would hurt the historical integrity of the site.

The Preservation Society wants to build the center to give visitors a place to buy snacks and sandwiches, use accessible restrooms and buy tickets indoors. They have argued The Breakers is a museum, and museums should be allowed to serve food.

Daniel Prentiss, a lawyer for the neighbors' group, told the Supreme Court that The Breakers is in a residential zone in "one of the most famous neighborhoods in the country." The neighborhood is packed with mansions and bordered on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and Cliff Walk.

Allowing food to be served at The Breakers, Prentiss said, could open the door to museums serving food elsewhere in the neighborhood and city.

But Preservation Society lawyer William Landry said most museums around the world allow patrons to have a glass of wine and a meal, and the Preservation Society would have to meet certain requirements for food service.

"This is no license to have McDonald's in every museum in Newport," Landry told the justices, adding that The Breakers hosts 400,000 people from all over the world every year.

The Breakers, perhaps the grandest of Newport's summer homes, is not air conditioned.



The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from shareholders who claim the Standard & Poor's ratings firm made false statements about its ratings of risky mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that threw out a lawsuit filed by the Boca Raton Firefighters & Police Pension Fund against S&P's parent company, McGraw-Hill.

A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 that statements about the integrity and credibility of S&P's credit ratings used routine, generic language that did not mislead investors.

The shareholders argued that false statements regarding a central aspect of the company's business were enough to violate federal securities laws.



NC Appeals Court says DOT must pay landowners

  Real Estate  -   POSTED: 2015/02/18 16:42

The North Carolina Court of Appeals says the state transportation department must pay some landowners whose property is in the path of a proposed road in Forsyth County.
 
Multiple media outlets reported that a three-judge panel of the court ruled Tuesday that a lower court was wrong to refuse to hear a lawsuit by 11 landowners who said the state's designation of their land in the proposed road's path hurt their property values.

There is no indication when the road might be built.

The 11 landowners say the state's designation of their property in the path of the planned road limits what they can do with the land.

The state attorney general's office is consulting with transportation officials on the ruling. They could appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court.


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