Eldership and Home
I was born and raised in Bernal Heights in a nice, big family house. I’m the youngest of six siblings. When we grew up, all of my siblings got married and moved on. I stayed at the house with my husband, Raul, and our three children. For 25 years, I paid rent, maintained the house, paid the bills. I helped take care of my elderly Mother and the children. I used to work for the airlines, and the federal government. I supported the whole house because I could. I didn’t even blink. I supported my Mother and my brother (when he lived there) because I could, paying rent and bills for over 25 years.
After my brother moved back in, a different brother started getting jealous thinking that if my Mom died I would inherit the house. The housing market had boomed and the house was starting to be very valuable. He started telling the other family members that I wanted to steal the house from their Mom. My siblings made a plan to get me out.
First, they wanted me to sign a month to month rental agreement. That was insulting. I had a verbal agreement with my Mom, and had paid rent every month for 25 years. I was deeply hurt and offended they wanted me to sign this. I just wanted the respect and acknowledgement that I could be trusted to continue paying rent like I had every month for the past 25 years. I told my siblings ‘I’m not gonna sign that’ and I never did.
At the time, my rent was $600. In February, I wrote a check for $450. My Mother, who was also the landlord, cashed the check on February 5th. I was going to pay the rest of the $150 as soon as I could.
Under rent control in California, if you make a payment of any amount- partial rent- you can’t get sued that month. I was protected under Rent Control. My family sued me for non-payment of February rent. They gave me a 3 day notice for $600. I only owed $150 on February rent and I had the cancelled check to prove it.
They took me to court. I knew that I had the cancelled check to prove that I had made a partial payment on February rent and that I didn’t owe $600. I had a clear cut case, so I decided to represent myself. I asked for a dismissal. I didn’t want to waste the court’s time. The law was on my side.
They hired a lawyer. Judge Suzanne Bolanos presided over the case. She was the head appellate Judge.
I said, “Your Honor, I don’t want to waste your time or the jury’s time. I have proof that there is no basis for their case.” She ignored what I was saying. She never mentioned the cancelled check. She denied my motion to dismiss.
The jury deliberates based on a verdict form. All the questions for the verdict form were based on the rental agreement, and I didn’t even sign it.
I said, “Excuse me, You Honor, I object to that, I didn’t even sign that.”
She ignored me.
It’s amazing how I lost. The case was based on slander. No due process. No fair trial at all. I was sued for non payment of rent and I had proof of rent.
I was evicted from my house of 30 years.
Appealing for Justice
I got a lawyer to appeal the case. When I went in to tell him about the case, I said don’t judge me, it’s a case with my family. He said “I’m not judging you, I’d sue my father if I had to.” He was one of those die hard lawyers.
He took the case pro bono. Now, 90% of appeals are settled out of court. They never go to trial. He took the case because he saw ‘ca-ching ca-ching’ - because I had the law on my side. If I got a settlement, he would be paid out of that money. But I wasn’t in it for the money. I wanted respect. I wanted justice. I wanted the case to be dismissed.
The Judge didn’t believe we were that kind of people, not in it for the money. She said you gotta ask for money, you gotta do this out of court.
The case wasn’t dismissed. 3 judges affirmed the first decision.
When I got the verdict I was crying. I said “How could this happen? Are these judges just protecting each other?” The lawyer said “Sure they are, they aren’t gonna go against each other.”
Why didn’t somebody tell me? Why did I have to learn that the hard way?
My lawyer was pissed off because we hadn’t tried to get settlement money. I guess because of lawyers ethics he couldn’t tell me beforehand that, even though the law was on our side, the Judges were protecting each other and they wouldn’t go against the first ruling.
My rights were violated. I was kicked out of my home. My lawyer just said, “Yeah, well look at all the work i did for you and I didn’t get anything.”
The same lawyer represented us for the second appeal, pro bono. He and his partner filed a brief that just stated the law. They made the point really delicately - not blaming the judges. They said that the judge had made an error.
Everyone’s scared of fucking judges. This was not error. The judge maliciously over and over broke the law. there is nothing about how she treated me in the whole case that was an error. I said, “Excuse me, You Honor, this evidence is pertinent to the case. And she said (paraphrasing) “well, you asked for a jury and they voted.”
The second appeal took one month. The decision was affirmed again.
Bolanos is the head judge for the appellate court. The other judges work under her - they are not going to rule against her.
The 4 judges that upheld her decision are just as guilty as her for breaking the law and covering it up. For violating my rights.
Because of these decisions, my life was destroyed. I was living on the street in a uhaul truck with my 3 kids. I was treated like an animal in San Francisco. 6 months in the shelter in a little tiny room with the kids, treated like animals.
My family stole everything out of my pockets. My credit got ruined. I lost my car and i’m still making payments even though it got booted for tickets.
Still Seeking Justice
My life has been violated, my kids rights have been violated. This corruption has to stop. This is not just for me personally - this is not only about us this is about other people’s rights too.
It was my son’s birthday four days after we got thrown on the street. I have pictures: we’re unloading a truck after being evicted from the home we lived in our entire lives. My childrens lives have been destroyed too. Money can not pay for the time and hurt we’ve suffered. My whole life has been swept into a tornado and the tornado hasn’t ended yet, its still spinning.
We will never give up. We are on a mission because we need to expose the corruption in the government, not only for us, but for other people. other peoples rights are being violated. We’ll never stop looking for justice.
*all quotations in this piece are paraphrased