By Joseph Snook and Curt Chancler
Jackson County, Oregon – Long, long ago, long before zoning laws existed, the owner of a portion of land in Jackson County, next to what became I-5, built a sign and put lights on the sign.
The sign remains there today. Owner of Clams LLC, Bernie Zieminski purchased the land and the sign. In other words the sign and its lighting was “grandfathered” in or exempt from regulations and the county or state should never impose a permit requirement.
However, many officials in Jackson County, over time, have developed a vendetta (hatred) for Mr. Zieminski. When they realized that he owned the land which the lighted sign was on, a complaint mysteriously appeared and Jackson County began their attack by issuing Zieminski a land-use violation.
A Brief History
Over the years the tax payers of Jackson County have made it very clear to county government they wanted no more taxes. But because of Jackson County’s perverted cravings for tax-payer-dollars, Jackson County’s corrupt past Commissioners used their legislative powers to create an unconstitutional court and a body of ordinances that suspend our constitutionally guaranteed Due Process Right to a jury trial in civil cases. Current commissioners are completely complicit with this abuse.
This body of unconstitutional ordinances by design gives the administrative branch of Jackson County government the ability to regulate nearly every aspect of the use of our property. This control over our right to live on and enjoy the use of our land is regulated through permit fees, inspection fees, administrative fees, etc., and fines for disobedience.
This is factually a twisted form of taxation without representation, used to gain control and dollars needed to support the excessive needs of Jackson County’s Administrative branch of county government. In other words, dollars are a prerequisite to the expansion and strengthening of Jackson County’s strangle-hold on the tax payers and their property rights.
A great example of Jackson County’s corruption is the blatant unconstitutional attacks on Bernie Zieminski. Oregon’s state courts have not only allowed these attacks, they assisted with them.
To really understand this case better, Joseph Snook‘s article, “Sign of the Times – Constitution Be Damned” is a must read.
Current Unconstitutional Jackson County Attacks
Zieminski’s sign has existed on this property for over 50 years and is still in good shape. Jackson County has been given old photographs showing the sign has had lights on it for several decades, but Jackson County has continued with Bernie’s prosecution.
If that is not good enough, in 1960-1961 I (Curt Chancler) was working on the construction of I-5 and I personally witnessed that the lighted sign was there.
Jackson County, subsequent to Zieminski’s purchase, has passed ordinances saying signs and lights on signs had to be regulated and approved by Jackson County. So, Jackson County code enforcement erroneously cited Bernie for installing lights on the sign without a permit.
Bernie Zieminski, argued the lights have always been on the sign, just not in use during certain periods of time. Mr. Zieminski stated he did not install a lighting system on the sign; he only repaired a pre-existing lighting system and turned the lights on and therefore there was no requirement for a permit.
Jackson County disagreed and told Bernie he and Clams LLC had violated a Jackson County ordinance and summoned Clams LLC into its Administrative Hearings “Star Chamber” Court.
Zieminski immediately demanded a jury trial. He relied on the Oregon Constitution, Article I, Section 17 which states, “In all civil cases the right of Trial by Jury shall remain inviolate.” Oregon Constitution Article 7 (Amended), Section 3 states, “In actions at law, where the value in controversy shall exceed $750, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved….”
Vile Jackson County Administrative Hearings Officer Donald Rubenstein told Mr. Zieminski that he (Clams LLC) did not have a right to a jury trial. Rubenstein then arbitrarily found that Clams LLC had violated the Jackson County ordinance by adding lights to its sign and imposed a $1,200 fine against Clams LLC.
Less than a year later Clams LLC petitioned the Jackson County Circuit Court for writ of review. The Circuit Court issued the writ of review and heard the case on March 31, 2014.
Oath violating Circuit Court Judge Timothy Gerking quickly ruled against Clams LLC. Gerking agreed with Rubenstein, who had first said that Clams LLC did not have a right to a jury trial and later said that he, as Administrative Hearings Officer, did not have the power to correct an error he had made. By issuing his corrupt and unconstitutional ruling, Gerking blatantly violated Zieminski’s Constitutional Rights and he amazingly ignored recent Oregon Appellate case law in the process.
Clams LLC has retained Lake Oswego Attorney James Leuenberger and is currently appealing to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Clams LLC was wrongfully denied a jury trial. Even though many courts have repeatedly held that people (and businesses) do not have a right to a jury trial unless the common law as it existed in 1859 (when Oregon adopted its Constitution and became a state) specifically provided for jury trials for the type of case being filed now, those court holdings plainly violate the words of Oregon Constitution Article I, Section 17 quoted above. Moreover, pursuant to the last word on civil jury trial in the case of MKF v. Miramontes, 352 Or 401 (2012), Clams LLC had a right to jury trial because Jackson County was trying to penalize Zieminski’s business for violating an ordinance and the common law clearly provides for jury trials when governments attempt to penalize people and businesses.
This means that even though the Oregon Supreme Court has not ruled that the parties in “all civil cases” have the right to a trial by jury; it has ruled that a person or business that is being penalized has the right to a jury trial before the penalty is imposed.
No one can legally create a constitutional law that denies a jury trial and no elected or appointed government official can constitutionally deny anyone a jury trial.
What is missing from the Bernie Zieminski case? Constitutional authority is what is missing. Where is Jackson County’s constitutionally stated authority to deny Bernie Zieminski or anyone else a jury trial in a civil or criminal case?
No need for you to look for that authority because that authority does not exist.
Judge Gerking should answer in what Section of the US or Oregon Constitutions is there a stated or implied expiration date?
There is no expiration dates stated or implied on the limitations placed on government’s power and its limited authority over the people; these limitations were intended to be forever. When government at any level creates a law that exceeds the constitutional limitations placed on the power and authority of government over the people then the law is unconstitutional.
The same is true of the people’s Bill of Rights. These rights are guaranteed to the people forever and when government creates a law that restricts or infringes on any of these rights, the law is unconstitutional.
Make no mistake, every law, statue, ordinance or rule created to be enforced on the American people from the first law passed in this country to a law that will be passed five hundred years from now is subject to constitutional standards and scrutiny and if it does not meet those constitutional standards then the law is unconstitutional. If we sound a bit repetitive it is intended. Intended, because citizens are routinely and illegally being abused and it is imperative that we stop this destructive abuse!
Government at every level is working very hard to eliminate jury trials in civil cases because the jury trial would stop government’s assault on the Constitution and the rights of the people dead in its tracks.
Though short in length, Article I, Section 17 as stated in the Oregon Constitution is one of our most important rights. It is important because a jury trial allows us the ability to enlist the help of our fellow citizens in the form of a jury to protect and defend our personal and property rights from an intrusive and overreaching government.
There is an old saying we need to remember, “We must listen to the voices of the past to lead us into the future”. Our founding fathers knew the inherit nature of man when he obtained power over men and they gave We the People a Constitution that contained all of the tools needed to keep the government we created in check.
Recently, ranchers in Nevada assisted by fellow citizens used some of the tools our Constitution(s) and Declaration of Independence gave us in order to demonstrate to an unconstitutional and dangerous Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that there comes a time we will resist and if attacked we will fight back.
Corrupted Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Gerking and the unconstitutional and corrupted administrative court in Jackson County, Oregon would be wise to pay more attention to our Constitution(s). They would be wise to stop the intentional abuse they have been inflicting on the citizens – Many of us are getting sick and tired of these worthless, so-called public servants and the abusive agencies and courts they use against us!