Judge compares Homeowner Association to "BANANA REPUBLIC" and "SPANISH INQUISITION" Orders HOA to pay fees and costs to homeowners who seek a recall of board.

By AHRC News Services Copyright AHRC News Services Santa Ana, California -

Some homeowners in the Villa Point Condominium Association located in Newport Beach, California, got a rude shock when they launched a recall petition against the board. The homeowner association sued to stop them having the recall. At a hearing in Orange County Superior Court on February 4, 2003, the homeowner association got an even more rude shock - the judge dismissed its lawsuit against the homeowners seeking the recall.

The judge reasoning:

"I guess what you're telling me is two of the guys against whom these complaints were being made, go and knock on the door and basically say to the person who allegedly signed the petition, did you sign that petition and how dare you do that, or words generally to that effect. And I don't know the people at this point, but you know, my experience in this human existence, people tend to shrink from people who are potentially in a position to retaliate.An so I guess my initial reaction - my gut-level reaction is what kind of investigation was this when, basically, the accused are conducting the investigation and the accused are the people in power? Again, my banana republic analogy might be better suited to, shall we say, something with the Balkans where this sort of thing goes on."

Michael Perry, the other homeowner association lawyer, then suggested that the homeowners could be questioned in a deposition regarding the validity of the signatures that they had collected for the recall.

The judge was having nothing of it.

"So stated in a slightly different way, sign a petition for election and face the Spanish Inquisition of a deposition in a lawyer's office at a date you might not like, and the certainly the place you might not like. I'm not sure that this is a real democratic process as was just described to me."

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