After a lively Zoom hearing at 34th District Court on Friday, Judge Lisa Martin granted the motion of attorney Tom DiPietro to terminate the tenancy of defendant James Forrest Chapman, 61, from a garage owned by David and Martha Brown in the city of Belleville.
Chapman, who was representing himself, was present by Zoom from DiPietro’s law office on Main Street in Belleville. DiPietro told Judge Martin that Chapman had trouble logging onto the courtroom site so he just showed up at DiPietro’s door.
DiPietro asked Judge Martin to order Chapman to pull up his face mask to cover his face and Chapman said his doctor said he didn’t have to wear a face mask.
Judge Martin said as long as he was in DiPietro’s office, he had to wear the mask as requested by DiPietro. He pulled up the mask, but then later in the hearing it was back down around his mouth.
Judge Martin said on Oct. 30, 2020 Chapman was served with a notice to quit the property at 668 E. Huron River Dr. in the city of Belleville. Subsequently a complaint was filed on Dec. 29, 2020 for him to quit the southeast corner of the building.
“You were given proper 30-day notice and you have not removed your property,” Judge Martin said, adding that he has presented no triable issue of fact, and so she is entering a judgment to grant the motion asking for termination of tenancy.
DiPietro said Chapman asked for the citation Judge Martin used for the “triable issue of fact” determination and she repeated it and Chapman wrote it down.
She said she understands there are other issues Chapman has, such as his claim that Brown owes him money. She said that may be a triable fact, but it is not a tenancy issue.
Chapman said he will ask for a stay of the order until after his appeal.
Judge Martin reminded him she hasn’t issued her order yet. Chapman said once she does, he will appeal it.
Chapman delayed the beginning of the court session by having trouble connecting electronically. Judge Martin said the case, scheduled for 10 a.m., was called at 10:15 a.m. and Chapman wasn’t there and now it was 10:30 a.m. and they were beginning.
David Brown was present by phone waiting for the case to begin and there were two other witnesses trying to connect that were to be called by DiPietro.
“He showed up on my doorstep so that’s why he’s sitting next to me,” DiPietro explained to the judge.
Chapman said he had a proposition and so Judge Martin put DiPietro and Brown in a breakout room with him to discuss it.
DiPietro, with Chapman at his side, left the breakout room and reported the session with Chapman was unproductive.
“I didn’t let my client reply,” DiPietro reported.
He said his two witnesses were Realtor Glenn Silvenis, who would testify on the amount of escrow fair to order for the unit involved, and Gene Carrier, who rented property from Brown.
He said the pleadings establish that voluntary possession of the unit was given at some point, but then the landlord terminated the tenancy. Use of the premises was contrary to the ordinances of the city of Belleville.
“What my client believed was that he would be prosecuted by the city,” DiPietro said. He discussed an email some of which would be excluded by heresay, but the third paragraph from the bottom could be entered into the record.
He said his clients desired to pursue the matter and he cited a couple of cases that dealt with the effect on the listener.
DiPietro said they can terminate this residency for any reason.
Judge Martin asked Chapman if he had any triable issues and Chapman said it was a verbal agreement and the unit had never been rented before.
“I was contracted verbally to build engines,” he said, adding he has a document he would like to copy and send to the judge that deals with another engine builder’s prices.
He said there is a conflict on the facts. He said a man that has a felony pending against him is being called as a witness, referring to Gene Carrier. The felony charge has Chapman as the complaining witness.
He said he is waiting for the prosecutor to issue a charge against Belleville Police Officer Jeff Wickham. Chapman said Wickham has film of Carrier carrying out his pistons and rods.
Chapman said there is a tentative agreement that when he gets his pistons and rods back, “I’ll be out in 30 days.”
Chapman said he will deny living there and he’s going to argue he’s never lived there. It’s been a workshop, he said.
“What is the triable issue of fact?” Judge Martin asked again, noting she heard him about the $5,000 to $6,000 worth of pistons and rods. “Are there other triable issues?”
Chapman said the door locks were spiked and probably Carrier did it.
“I’d just as soon as go to trial,” Chapman said. “I want to wash my hands of this.”
DiPietro said this was a question of tenancy and Chapman is going to bring theft charges and rods and pistons on top of that.
“That’s no defense for tenancy,” DiPietro said.
He said since Nov. 18, 2020 there has been welding of the door, cutting hinges, and preventing the landlord from entering the property.
“The doors are not welded shut,” Chapman countered. “They are secured.” He said he put a keyless entry in and the unit was spiked. “They violated every agreement… They couldn’t get me out illegally,” he said adding Officer Wickham has the video of “that man” taking his pistons and rods. “My landlord did not protect my interests.”
Chapman said the judge should investigate the spiking of the locks. He said there was beating on his door. He asked Judge Martin to grant discovery.
DiPietro said that was not appropriate in this case.
Judge Martin said this case is purely the plaintiff’s motion on tenancy and recovery of the plaintiff’s property, not pistons and rods.
Chapman had demanded a jury trial, but if there are no triable issues of fact, there is no reason for a trial.
Judge Martin ruled that Chapman should vacate the premises by March 15, but that could be delayed by an appeal.
James Forrest Chapman
James Forrest Chapman, 61, of Van Buren Township, has been charged with being a disorderly person at 2:22 p.m., Jan. 30, in the city of Belleville.
He is scheduled for a remote arraignment / pretrial on the charge, with appearance by Zoom, at 10:10 a.m., March 18, before Chief Judge Brian Oakley.
Kalin Christian Karvelis
Kalin Christian Karvelis, 25, of New Boston was arraigned March 1 and held without bond for first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, and two felony firearm charges for the Feb. 26 slaying of his mother and injuring of his father in Huron Township. He also was arraigned March 1 on another charge of fleeing a police officer/third degree, on June 6, 2020. Karvelis was scheduled for a Zoom probable cause conference before Judge Oakley at 8:30 a.m. March 10.