Tag Archives: legal issues in Mexico

Off to Ministerio Publico

Well, this story starts about a year and a half ago.  Rita purchased 3 lots, 2 for her brother and one for herself, from an aging colono (member) of La Yacata.  Super Prez being busy and all, delayed the certificates printing for some time and Rita was having none of that.  She stopped by at least twice a week at my house, twice more at SuperPrez’s office.  She even camped out by the office back door hoping to catch Super Prez leaving.  Insistent is an understatement in her case.  Eventually, her certificates were ready for pick-up and she picked them up.

I had hoped that would be the last I heard of her.  However in August of last year, I was coming home from the morning shopping trip, lo and behold, there she was again.  She had this long drawn out story of how someone who she had confidence in had taken her certificate along with some other papers.  I said that we kept a copy in the files and that if she wanted, she could have a new certificate made up, voiding the now missing certificate.  All the appropriate paperwork I forwarded to Super Prez and figured he’d let me know when it was ready for my signature.

Then in January of this year, Sal, brother of Rita showed up with this lost certificate. Storytelling must run in the family.  He had a long convoluted story of how his sister said the association (which is pretty much me and only me) had made an error because the certificate should be in his name.  So she ceded the property rights (he showed me her signature) to him and he wanted a revised certificate reflecting his status as owner. He said his sister wasn’t often home so it wouldn’t be easy to find her, besides he had the certificate and the signature and that should be enough.  I said I would take the paperwork and turn it into Super Prez and that he should check at the office in about a month so see if it was ready for pickup.

After he left, I started to get suspicious about the whole thing.  Why would Rita have told that long and emotional story about being betrayed and robbed earlier if she didn’t have any legal right to the property in the first place?  Why wouldn’t Sal be incensed, like most people are, when there is a mistake on the certificate?  You wouldn’t believe how bent out of shape some people get over a typo on these certificates.  And yet, good ol’ Sal shrugged and said it was a mistake.

So turn in the paperwork I did, however, I did not write up the order for a new certificate.  I attached a note listing my concerns and requesting that Super Prez contact Rita.  I also sent him an email to the same effect.

Much to my surprise, Rita herself showed up at my door the following Sunday with yet another long story session.  I don’t know exactly what her purpose in coming was, maybe just to have a new audience for her latest tales of woe.  From what I gathered, her brother Sal had pushed their mother down the steps then called the women’s abuse shelter.  Lawyers came from Guanajuato to investigate the assault against his mother.  Then there was some testimony by the mentally challenged boy that lived there, I never did figure out whose child he was, that named Sal as the instigator of the investigation, saying that his purpose was to take possession of the house where his mother and sister lived.

Furthermore, there was some alleged extortion over the pet cat.  Apparently, Sal kidnapped said animal, much to the mother’s distress.  Well, cats won’t go where they don’t want to go, so it eventually found its way back home, but it was all very emotional to hear Rita tell about it.

So when she had finally wound down enough, I told her about her brother showing up with that lost certificate.  She didn’t seem to understand what I was I saying, so I repeated the story to her silent husband.  Then he explained what I said to her.  Her mind was still in the story she had told apparently.  I told them that if she hadn’t signed that certificate, then good brother Sal was guilty of fraud and that she should take this up with the Ministero Publico.  She wanted immediate possession of the certificate.  Of course, it was already in Super Prez’s office.

So I sent off an email telling Super Prez she was coming for the certificate.  He didn’t give her the certificate.  He said he would hold on to it until asked to turn in it to Ministerio Publico for the demanda (lawsuit).  Seems reasonable to me.

I thought I was finished with all this until Rita showed up yet again at my house.  She wanted to know why I hadn’t gone to Ministerio Publico for my declaration.  What?  No one told me anything about that.  Apparently, the Ministerio Publico messenger had gone twice to the school where I work to deliver the summons, but couldn’t find me.  What? How was that possible.  I’m there every day from 7 am until 2 pm.  So the next day I asked the front office if anyone of the legal persuasion had been looking for me.  Negative.  All righty then.

Two days later, the director came up to my office and said that someone from Ministerio Publico came looking for me, but had been knocking at the side door.  What?  Couldn’t that person see the GIANT open entrance to the school?  Anyway, he didn’t even have the papers to deliver.  He said he’d be back with them.  Why would you go to deliver a summons but not take the summons?  Who knows!  I didn’t stick around.

Monday morning the secretary came to say that men in suits were at the entrance asking for me.  This must be it then.  I braced myself and went to receive the summons.  There were 2 copies, one for me and one to sign and return.  I squawked a bit about having to work, but the guy was unflappable.  He said I could use the summons as a justification for missing work–try telling that to my online students.  Well, I would just hope it would be quick.

Armed with my official ID, I set out for the Ministerio Publico directly after work.  I entered and there was an open book but no attendant.  I peeked around the corner and asked if I was supposed to sign the book, this being my first visit to the MP and all.  Yep, I was.  Reason for my visit–citatorio (summons).  I asked where I should go–upstairs.  Well, that was a little vague, but up them stairs, I went.

On the first landing, there was nothing but a bunch of chairs.  Ok, second landing then.  There were 2 offices.  As my letter didn’t specify which office, I tromped in one, eeny meeny miney moe style.  There were two fully armed police officers.  Have I mentioned that police officers carry large weapons and wear full bodysuits here? So I asked the nearest police officer who I was supposed to see. He gestured toward this younger, rounder guy with a tie on.  I handed him my paper and he said yes, I should be here, but could I wait downstairs until he finished with the current issue.  Ok.  I wandered back downstairs.  A little while later, those police officers and a guy in handcuffs came down and exited the building.  And still later, the guy in the tie came down.  He said he’d be right with me–called me maestra (teacher).  Well, I suppose that’s easy to determine as the summons went to the school and I was still in my uniform and he’d probably already talked to Rita who would surely leave no detail of my life out in her declaration.

While I was waiting, my sister-in-law L and her newest squeeze waltzed in.  We were both a bit startled to see each other.  I can’t wait to see what story she concocts to explain my presence there.  Perhaps I’ll be trying to steal her father’s house or some such nonsense.

It was about 40 minutes after I first arrived that I took the seat at the tie guy’s desk.  He didn’t start right away.  Seemed there were some things he had to finish up on other cases.  He also was very distracted by the goings on at the other 2 desks in the office.  Twice he said something and I thought he was addressing me, but he wasn’t.  

Eventually, he began with name and address type questions.  Apparently, my name was too common for all the drama involved because Rita or somebody had rechristened me.  I was now C. de las Flores along the same vein as Maria de la Santa Cruz, Maria de Nuestra Soledad, Maria de la Luz, Maria de los Angeles, and so on that are so popular here.  I whipped out my driver’s license and explained that the name listed there was my legal name.

The certificate in question was in the file, so it seems Super Prez had already made his declaration.  I recapped my interaction with Sal.  The guy with the tie typed it up.  He was amazingly adept at 3 finger typing.  He printed it out.  I signed and was free to go.  

My son had patiently waited in el centro for an hour for me to be released.  He said he had passed the time by helping out of towners find places.

Having done our good deeds for the day, we headed home.  I can’t say if this is the last thing I’ll have to do for this issue or not.  I hope so!

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This post was proofread by Grammarly.

 

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Reconstructing the Facts

This is the intersection where the accident occurred.

This is the intersection where the accident occurred.

Before my father-in-law’s case could proceed to the higher court in Celaya, a mandatory reconstrución de hechos (reenactment) had to be held.  This required all participants, witnesses, lawyers, la juez (the judge) and a neutral perito (sort of like a detective) to be present.  This was scheduled December 27, the Friday after Christmas, at 9 a.m. in the morning.

As it turns out, in a rare weather fluke, it happened to be raining that morning, something that is far from common in December.  Since it had not been raining the day of the accident, the judge suspended the proceedings.  This angered many of the witnesses, since they had lost a day’s work and would lose a second day’s work for the rescheduled event.   Although it was a valid point, if the judge really was concerned about mimicking as close as possible the actual scene, she would have rescheduled this for mid-May.

Be that as it may, the proceeding was rescheduled for January 2, which was the Thursday after New Year’s.  We made arrangements for my husband to take his father to the courthouse and my son to help his aunt in the Tortilleria.  Unfortunately, we had in mind for some reason that January 2 was the Friday after New Year’s and so when my sister-in-called to say that we had been mistaken in the day, there was pure pandemonium.  I had already left for my classes and had taken my son’s phone with me to charge at the school.  So there was no phone in La Yacata for me to call to tell them of the mix-up.  I still had 30 minutes before the students were due to arrive, so I raced to La Yacata on my moto and arrived beeping at the house. When I explained the situation, my husband jumped on his moto and headed for the courthouse and my son hopped up behind me to go to the tortilleria.

When I dropped my son off, I glared at my sister-in-law and demanded to know why she hadn’t called sooner!  I then zoomed back to the school just in time for my first class of the day.

My husband was able to meet up with my father-in-law before the whole crew went out to the scene of the accident and therefore, provided some moral support.  He said that the lawyer remarked that since all the witnesses said different things, winning the case would be canijo (difficult), but he was going to continue.  The alternative is a murder conviction and jail time for my father-in-law and that just isn’t right.

So the next step is to wait for the court case to be called in Celaya and see what there is to be seen.

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And Justice for All?

There was no justice to be had for this man in Moroleón.

There was no justice to be had for this man in Moroleón.

The court proceedings concerning the moto accident between my in-laws and the police finally occurred a year and a half after my mother-in-law’s death (See on Life and Liberty). During the month of September, my father-in-law reported to court an average of 2-3 times per week.

So 2-3 times per week, my father-in-law rode his bicycle from La Yacata to the courthouse or the lawyer’s office.

This legal process was exasperated when the police officer involved or his lawyer or the witnesses did not appear in court and my father-in-law spent hours cooling his heels in the outer office.

We thought that perhaps that the no-shows would be in my father-in-law’s favor. Little did we realize that their absence was a mark of how trivial they felt these proceedings to be since they already knew what the outcome would be.

Decisions of guilt or innocence are not determined by a jury of your peers in México, but by the sole discretion of the judge. In Moroleón, all penal cases are determined by La Juez, whose children I had been teaching for several years. I had come to respect her over the years and appreciated her advice during the difficult week when my mother-in-law died and Chuchi slapped me with a demanda (See The First Demanda and La Novena). However, mitigating this esteem was the fact that her husband was the forensic specialist for the police in Moroleón. And him I was never too impressed with. The forensic evidence submitted by the police included a film of an accident that wasn’t with my in-laws and a dent in the driver’s side door which was used as conclusive “proof” that the moto hit the truck and, therefore, the fault of my father-in-law, completely discounting the conflicting evidence of the injuries sustained by my in-laws.

Forensics here is proclaimed the new messiah and unlike CSI, there is no attempt to find logical connections between the evidence and the action. For instance, if your fingerprints are on your own wallet that was stolen, the judge might determine that you yourself gave the wallet to the thief since there were no other fingerprints on it. Whatever!

With such logic, a dent in the door must mean that the moto hit the truck and caused the accident, not that the force of the impact caused the moto to spin from the front of the truck around to the opposite side and hit the door after throwing the passengers into the air–or so it would seem.

Despite witness testimony, despite testimony from my father-in-law, despite the injuries sustained by my in-laws all charges against the police officer were dropped and instead the charges were laid at my father-in-law’s feet for him to disprove. He awaits sentencing at the end of the month.

An appeal has been submitted to the district court in Celaya, but no court date has been set.

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Negotiating for La Yacata–The response

cow patty

This cow patty represents my current opinion of the legal system here in Mexico.

Having made our offer to the nieces/lawyers of the pozo guy, we made an appointment to receive their answer en 8 días (the following Friday) at the same time.

Super Prez had an appointment to take his daughter for her first confession at 6:00, but we weren’t anticipating the meeting to take too long and so he wasn’t overly worried. R2, G, Super Prez and I waited until 6:30 p.m. before R2 called the pozo guy to see what was up.

To our surprise, the pozo guy didn’t have any idea there was a meeting and didn’t seem in the least bit worried about his case. He even said that the issue with La Yacata was old, even though the third demanda (lawsuit) for the amount of $500,000 is relatively recent. (See Demanda 3–What the….?) He told us we should contact his lawyers and then hung up.

R2 said he would contact the lawyers and see about setting up a second meeting en 8 días (the following Friday) at the same time. He also mentioned that he had seen Chuchi that week. Chuchi told him that he had taken the liberty of giving R2’s phone number to the pozo guy, who had apparently lost it. When R2 mentioned that we had an appointment that Friday, Chuchi said “Le encargo mío tambíen”–which is to say I am holding you responsible for resolving my case as well.

I dislike this expression of “le encargo” since it gives the responsibility of fixing or obtaining to the recipient and removes responsibility from the supplicant. When I had the Crap Shoppe open (See Failing at your own business–Crap Shoppe) I had several things I was to be encargado for on my next trip to the States, jeans, stockings, shirts etc. Those that made the petitions made no mention when and if they would return to then buy the things that I spent time obtaining.

Regardless, Chuchi seems to be of the opinion that R2 is biddable or bribable, which knowing his reputation is entirely possible and makes me even less than satisfied with our current legal representation.

We laughed at Chuchi’s presumption and adjourned.

The following Friday, I arrived early to the office to find that Super Prez was out of town. I asked his secretary to call him and see if we were even having the junta (meeting) because it looked as if was going to rain and I didn’t relish a wet trip home to La Yacata on the moto. She called and Super Prez said he would call R2 to see what was up and call back. Fifteen minutes later, Super Prez called back to say that I could go home since the pozo guy was not going to come and furthermore felt that the offer was muy baja (too low). Since we weren’t inclined to any more negotiation, the court case continues.

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