Friday, November 24, 2023

Judge Fed up with Briarwood 1 Owner

The cease-fire ended in the Battle of Briarwood 1 after Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Reynolds threatened to throw the buiding's owner in jail if the building is not demolished within 60 days.  

Jackson Code Enforcement has been trying to get the New York owner of the building, Mike Kohan, to tear down the dilapidated building or bring it up to code for over a year.  Judge Reynolds ordered his arrest last year but rescinded the bench warrant when he agreed to sell the property to Roger Thomas.  Thomas promised to demolish the building within 120 days of the closing date once he purchased the property.  However, there was one fly in the ointment.  Thomas had to obtain financing for the purchase and has apparently been unable to do so.   Judge Reynolds extended the deadline to October 30 to give Thomas more time to obtain said financing.  

Halloween came and went and surprise, no sale took place.  Thomas had been unable to find a lender while Kohan said the agreement kept him from selling the property to another buyer.  

The Court had enough with the excuses and made it's displeasure known in the order posted below: 

Despite providing Defendant Kohan since January 10, 2023, to demolish the Property­ which remains a clear and present danger the citizens of Jackson-Defendant Kohan has shown no urgency to comply with the Court's Orders to demolish the Property, despite his promises, both individually and on behalf of Briarwood, to comply with the Court's demolition Orders.

The Court's patience is nearing its end. Defendant Kohan and Briarwood shall have 60 days from today to demolish the Property and remove all associated debris. Should Defendants Kohan and Briarwood-which submitted to this Court's jurisdiction upon executing the May 11, 2023 Agreed Order-fail to demolish the Property, remove all associated debris, and provide the Court with proof of such demolition and debris removal within 60 days, the Court will reinstate Mr. Kohan's sentence of six months' incarceration, place Mr. Kohan's arrest warrant back on the NCIC database, and reinstitute the extradition proceedings outlined in the Court's March 24, 2023 Order.

Judge Reynolds said if Kohan appeals, the Court will reinstate a $1 million secured appearance bond and $2,500 cost bond. 

Judge Reynolds ordered Thomas to appear at a contempt hearing while ordering: 

Defendants Kohan and Briarwood have 60 days to demolish the Property and remove all associated debris, to the satisfaction of this Court. Should Mr. Kohan and/or Briarwood fail to comply, this Court will once again initiate extradition proceedings so that Defendant Kohan can be brought to Mississippi to begin serving his six-month sentence of incarceration.


Synopsis of Case

New Yorker Mike Kohan owns the property through his company, Briarwood Holding Realty, LLC.  The building suffered deteriorated into a serious state of neglect over the last several years after the last tenants moved out of the building. JJ reported on March 28: 

To say the building fell into a state of disrepair is an understatement.  Fallen limbs blocked the parking lot, numerous windows were busted out, the underground parking garage was flooded, mold was present, and the residency challenged took over the place as they destroyed the property.   

Jackson Code Enforcement officers cited Kohan for the violations.  Judge Reynolds held a trial in January but the defendant did not appear in court.  The Court found him guilty and sentenced Kohan to serve six months in jail if he did not demolish the building or bring it in compliance with the municipal code.   Kohan's lawyer, John Martin, filed an emergency motion to vacate the judgement and appealed the conviction to Hinds County Court, arguing his client was never properly served. However, Kohan did not pay the $1 million appeal bond set by Judge Reynolds.  Judge Reynolds denied the motion and ruled the appeal was invalid since the defendant did not pay the appeal bond.  The Court issued an arrest warrant for Kohan since he did not comply with the Court order regarding the building.  

Kohan appealed to Chancery Court even though the Court has no jurisdiction over criminal cases.  Chancellor Tamertrice Hodges issued a temporary restraining order against the city.  

Judge Reynolds ignored the Chancellor, holding she had no jurisdiction over the case, and held a status conference yesterday.  Attorneys Sterling Kidd (Baker Donelson) and John Martin represented the non-traveling Kohan. 

Kohan consented to the jurisdiction of the Jackson Municipal Court and agreed to dismiss the Chancery Court appeal with prejudice.  They also agreed to withdraw their "defective" County Court appeal. Kohan had filed a notice of appeal but did not submit a $1 million appearance bond. 

The defendant agreed to bring the building up to safety code.  Kohan will work with the city and obtain the necessary permit.  Judge Reynolds said he will reinstate the six-month jail sentence and extradition order he issued on March 24.  

A licensed contractor accompanied the attorneys in Court.  A Kohan gopher from Tulsa appeared as well. The attorneys apologized for the current state of the building.  The consent order is posted below. 

Judge Reynolds apparently got Kohan's attention last week.  Kohan argued he could not be held liable for the building's condition since his company owned the property.  However, Judge Reynolds made short work of his claim: 

The Defendant has also argued that, because the building is held by his LLC, not Defendant personally, he cannot be criminally charged or convicted for criminal violations of the City’s environmental codes. But Defendant, the LLC’s Manager, is also its sole member. As the sole, managing member, Defendant is the only individual with authority to ensure the LLC abides, or does not abide, the City of Jackson’s environmental codes. A single-member LLC’s sole member cannot use the LLC to shield that member from criminal prosecution for failure to abide by environmental codes, allowing dangerous conditions to endanger the safety of the citizens of Jackson.

Judge Reynolds ruled March 24 Kohan did not demolish the building as the Court required nor did he surrender his personage to JPD.  The Court asked the City Attorney to initiate extradition proceedings against the New York defendant.  The order must have gotten the defendant's attention because his attorneys were very agreeable in Court. 

Mr. Kohan got immediately got to work whipping the property back in shape.  He repaired the fence while security became a constant presence at the site, forcing the residency-challenged to evacuate the property.  Repairs were made that met the Court's satisfaction.  

Judge Reynolds held another hearing on May 11.  The Court suspended the jail sentence and said it would be dismissed if certain conditions were met.  

Kohan told the Court he intended to sell the building to Ready One Management, LLC.  Jackson resident Roger Thomas, Sr. owns the company.   The sale will close on June 6.  Briarwood will pay $75,000 to Ready One at closing to "assist" with the demolition.  Ready One will demolish the building and remove the debris withing 120 days after the closing date.  Thomas and his company agreed to submit to the Court's jurisdiction.  

Ready One was supposed to apply for a demolition permit by May 25. 


Anonymous said...

Good luck! Clearly Mr. Kohan knows that a little podunk Mississippi judge is no match for his platoon of NY attorneys. I mean can you imagine a bunch of motormouth Ben Shapiro style buzzards devouring Judge Reynolds?

Anonymous said...

This looks like a shakedown now by Reynolds. Thousands of clear and present danger properties in Jackson in similar or worse states of disrepair and Reynolds is hell bent on this one building. Someone wants that property but only if Lumumba's judge can get someone else to pay for the demo before the next Mayoral election.

Anonymous said...

My dad's old office building! Saw this a few weeks ago while passing through MS. So sad to see the condition... Long live eco-systems but now Allen engineering!

Anonymous said...

Judge Reynolds is actually DOING something!!

Anonymous said...

The Environmental Wing of the Jackson Municipal Court has been extremely aggressive in pursuing this New Yorker about his troublesome property. However, I fail to see the same aggressive prosecution of other violations of city ordinances regarding traffic, random gunfire, and property maintenance.
Why is this case so special?

Anonymous said...

11:09AM, you are absolutely right. This is about corruption, more than anything else.

A less-feckless city - a city whose leaders were able to cooperate in value-building endeavors (rather than COLLUDING in graft/theft/bribe-taking/shakedowns), would have formed a transitional entity, whose job would have been to REHABILITATE THE BUILDING.

Simply from a Potemkin Village standpoint, Briarwood One is of value to the city. It looks impressive from the Interstate. There is very little, in Jackson, which is impressive to those driving through town.

One could begin, by doing a GoogleImageSearch for 'Solar Sump Pump'. That would solve the "flooded garage" problem (assuming the continuation of onsite security - or competent remote security).

One COULD regard those broken-out windows, as OPPORTUNITIES. It would be virtually effortless, to have those apertures retrofitted with hinged or pivoting operable windows - glass to match existing - frames to match existing. Multiple local businesses can and would jump into action (if they knew they were going to be paid for their efforts).

Strip-out the dropped ceilings, rip-out the carpet. Buff the concrete. It's that simple. Instant OFFICE LOFT CONDO.

(not that there's an iota of hope that this would happen, in a city, and in a state, where all but thieving idiots have fled for other regions)

Anonymous said...

Someone please ask judge Reynolds if she has ridden down Capitol street lately.

Bill Dees said...

I'm guessing Reynolds has gotten this all wrong. And why don't the Judge and the Code Enforcement Dept have the same zeal for demolishing the hundreds of dilapidated single family dwellings in Jackson? Who's zooming who?

Anonymous said...

11:09, I know Jeff and can tell you he is not the type to engage in what you speculated about.

Anonymous said...

The first step, it seems to me, would be to analyze, understand, and ARTICULATE Kohan's motivations. How does he stand to profit from this? How DID he expect to profit from the situation.

How COULD Kohan profit (or minimize loss), were competent negotiators from Jackson (who'd done - or had done for them - the homework in the above paragraph), to interface with him, in a non-adversarial way?

For purposes of pure self-amusement, I'm assuming that the Jackson team are at least partly motivated by altruistic desire to make things better in their city. And I'm assuming that theft-by-coercion, is not the Jackson team's ONLY goal.

Anonymous said...

mmmm…didn’t know “the court” had a terminal ID to enter a warrant on NCIC. Never heard of an extradition for a 6 month sentence.

Anonymous said...

As many serious problems going on in Jacktown, and this judge (?) is fixated on this one piece of property????

Anonymous said...

If they raze this bldg., will Jackson then return to the beautiful city it was when I moved there in the early 70’s?

Anonymous said...

What city wouldn’t try to steal this building, it could easily be a new city hall with apartments !

Anonymous said...

12:48 - Great Idea!! Sounds like a sure thing! Now why don't you go get a loan and make it happen?

Anonymous said...

If that idiot who owns the building is still paying taxes on it, leave it alone. If not sell the building at a tax sale. Problem solved. But, Jackson can’t seem to operate like the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

That building will be standing this time next year

Anonymous said...

7:33 - why don't you do a little research? The property taxes were sold, but not redeemed yet, in 2021 and 2022. Even then, the problem is not solved.

Anonymous said...

Who says I need a loan

Anonymous said...

Attn 12:31 PM Can you determine who was the unfortunate buyer at the tax sale???

Anonymous said...

Judge Reynolds threats are about as useful as tits on a bore hog.

He must be real estate's male version of Tomie Greene. @10:47 yep this building will still standing this time next year.

Anonymous said...

Attn 5:54 pm. What is a “Bore” hog?

Anonymous said...

It was a very stately and impressive building in 1993-94 when I lived on Keele street. American Healthtech occupied a couple floors. I hope it can be saved.

Anonymous said...

7:48 Its one of those bigguns that "bores" a hoggess until they get the little bacon drippings.

Anonymous said...

"a hoggess", hahahahahahaha, is that anything like a sow?

Wow said...

Pretty crappy to see Sterling Kidd represent Kohan.

It shows me why the profession of lawyers has fallen so much since the Atticus Finch type lawyer at the turn of the century.

Disgusting what Sterling and his company will do at the cost to our own city for a few bucks. Shame on you. You should be embarrassed to take on such a case if you had any dignity and care for our own town.

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