Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Scumlords Gonna Scumlord

Which will collapse first, Hotel O or the Hotel Owner's court fight against the city of Jackson? Despite losing over and over in court, Noah Muthana keeps appealing as the city tries to condemn the Hotel O on I-55 N Frontage Road.

Muthana has owned Hotel O for more than two years.  Jackson Code Enforcement cited Muthana for six code violations in June 2022.  Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeff Reynolds condemned the hotel after finding it had unsafe electrical wiring,  defective plumbing, pervasive mold, structural weaknesses, and the roof was in a serious state of disrepair.  Residency-challenged individuals occupied the building even though there was no power.  However, one should never underestimate human ingenuity, even among such people.  The squatters simply ran extension cords to outlets on adjacent properties.  The Court said some cords were in contact with water.  A detective testified Muthana had three employees who lived on the property.   

Judge Reynolds threw Muthana in jail after determining he made no effort to improve the property.  He said the property was in worse shape than when the city began investigating the property in November 2021.   

The defendant sat in jail for a few days before Judge Reynolds released him.  Judge Reynolds ordered JPD to evict all "tenants" from the premises.  The judge told Code Enforcement to ensure a secure fence surrounded the pool.  Judge Reyonlds ordered Muthana to post a $275,000 secured appearance bond and $2,500 cost bond if he wanted to appeal the order.   


The defendant claimed he could not afford the $275,000 appearance bond but Judge Reynolds said he could have filed an affidavit of indigency.  Judge Reynolds also pointed out Muthana retained four lawyers, thus limiting any claim of indigency. The Court said Mississippi Rule of Criminal Procedure 29.4(a) "leaves the amount of the appearance bond up to the trial judge's discretion." 

Muthana appealed to Hinds County Court, arguing the appearance bond was unconstitutional. He paid the $2,500 cost bond.

 Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Reynolds condemned the building July 26 and gave the owner to ten days to clear everyone and everything out of the hotel. 

Hinds County Court Judge Johnny McDaniels had other ideas about the case and blocked it all, ruling on August 8 he had "exclusive jurisdiction of the case. However, Judge McDaniels never got around to questioning the demolition order because he dismissed Muthana's appeal on August 31, ruling the defendant appealed the case four months after the thirty-day deadline expired in April.  

However, Muthana did not take his ass-whupping like a man but instead filed a notice of appeal on September 11. The notice states the defendant will appeal the decision to Hinds County Circuit Court.  

The city filed a motion to dismiss (see, it knows how to do it after all!) on December 1.  The motion argues the Court should dismiss any Muthana appeal since he did not post the $275,000 appearance bond nor did he file his notice of appeal within thirty days of the lower court's decision.  

Oddly enough, the Mississippi Court of Appeals just ruled on this issue in September.  A defendant was convicted of a crime in Tupelo Municipal Court.  Her appeal was dismissed in Lee County Court as she failed to file her appearance bond within the required thirty days.  She appealed to Circuit Court and struck out again.  Down but not out, she appealed to the Court of Appeals where she lost yet again. The Court held in Kilcrease v. City of Tupelo

Because the appearance bond was not filed within thirty days of Kilcrease's conviction and sentence, the county court was without jurisdiction to hear Kilcrease's appeal and properly dismissed the appeal.

Attorneys Carlos Tanner and John Hall, II represent Muthana.

Kingfish note: Meanwhile, the building continues to crumble.  A fire took place several months ago.  Rooms are burned out  and plywood covers numerous windows.  The building has been the scene of numerous crimes over the years, including shootings and aggravated assaults.  JPD busted the managers for selling drugs at the front desk a few years ago but RSS made the case go away as he often did.  The scumlords are just doing what scumlords do: crap everything for everyone else and that, my friends, is the bottom line. 



Anonymous said...

Appeal after appeal. There has to be a place where due process and common sense cross paths. One need not go to law school or wear a judge's robe to know that if a building is neglected for years with no legal use, no plan, and no sign of improvement, the owner should be held accountable. Allowing slumlords to game the system is making the courts look as embarrassing as their properties.

Anonymous said...

OK, appeals are out. I guess court jumping is in: Municipal Court, Hinds County Circuit Court.

Muthana/Owner not indigent, no problem paying the 4 lawyers to continually file in 2 courts.

At what point can the building be demolished? Its already been condemned by Judge Reynolds.

Anonymous said...

Should have let it burn to the ground when they had the chance.

Anonymous said...

They need to re-start that fire-in multiple locations

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful Judge Reynolds is on the bench and doing the Court's part to hold this defendant accountable. Judge Reynolds is a good judge and we are fortunate to have him.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate Judge Reynolds sticking to his guns. It appears these slumlords are used to getting their own way with impunity. Glad someone is showing them that at least one judge is going to put them through hell.

Anonymous said...

A radical Jackson fixer-upper. Right?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if it's insured? Owner's probably hoping/betting someone will burn it to the ground so he can collect before anything else. Guess they'd also have to pay for removal of debris. That'd check off all the boxes at one time.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds' selective accountability on full display again. Hundreds of properties in Jackson equally as bad but tough guy Reynolds is nowhere to be seen. Another shakedown where an invisible third party wants the land on the cheap.

Kingfish said...

He can only work the cases the city puts before him. Do you have some knowledge of other cases where he has taken no action? If so, please share.

Anonymous said...

"Another shakedown where an invisible third party wants the land on the cheap."

This allegation is supported by invisible evidence.

Anonymous said...

Laws can be strengthened but slum lords donate to politicians. Some even socialized with them.
And, the money from the building while it was still in use went to more " socially approved" investments.

Anonymous said...

Judge might drive by the eyesore to and from Court, so remains incensed that his orders are so openly dissed. Because people are camping inside, lives are continuously threatened by dangerous conditions.

Anonymous said...

I am rooting for Mathana. If we held our city officials to the same standard, no one would have a job for more than two years.

Anonymous said...

December 13, 2023 at 4:05 PM
Must be one of Muthanas lawyers.

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