My question involves civil rights in the State of: North Carolina
Hi, over the course of 2 years, my neighbors have been harassing me, my friend and her son. Things escalated recently to threats & verbal assault, and my friend and I filed 50C no contact orders yesterday. The hearing over whether or not to issue a permanent no contact order is set for next week, and I'd like to get your advice on how to proceed with the evidence I have.
It all started in 2016 when I did a survey and, while I was away, my surveyor talked to my neighbors. There is an ingress & egress access easement for a different elderly lady/property beside mine, and these neighbors live next door (they are tenants in their own home, not owners) and are her caretakers. They have used the existence of the easement as a pretext to harass us, but this 50C case is really not about an easement or property, it's about their volatile behavior and harassment.
Many of the things my neighbors (man and his girlfriend) have done seem minor at first glance but the way they do these actions is extremely disruptive to us and is so volatile/erratic that it makes us feel unsafe. One of the earlier incidents last year was when they moved leaves that we put on the side of the road back onto our grass (onto the strip of grass between sidewalk & road) and then screamed at us and called the police for moving the leaves back to the curb, accusing us that we think we're better than everyone for how we rake our leaves. During that incident, the man got in my face and shouted that I'm the man of the house and I should have talked to him earlier... that he's not mad yet, i'll know when he's mad. I'm a very laid back person by nature but the incident was so confusing and jarring (who behaves like this and calls the police over leaves?!).
The very next day we were tilling our land and they called the police on us again. They refused to accept the property boundaries my surveyor staked. The police advised no action needed and we could continue to finish tilling since we were on our property, but again it was a surreal experience.
The next day after that (all of this happened last year), we were served 50C orders from our neighbors. The judge denied the orders to our neighbors in court but it was a ridiculous experience and extremely stressful. In court, the man testified that he has bi-polar disorder, extreme anxiety, sees a therapist & psychologist weekly. His girlfriend said she has health problems but did not specify - they were trying to get sympathy with the judge and show that we've made their problems worse. Up to that point, I had been away at work during many of the prior incidents, but they still took out an order on me. In court they said I'm a very nice person and they have no issues with me, just my friend who was present for most of the incidents back then, so the judge severely reprimanded them at the end for issuing an order against someone who's praises they sang. Also during the case, the man & woman stated they were scared of being evicted from their house and that their landlord had threatened to evict them because we complained to him. Unfortunately the landlord is an elderly man with health issues that the man and his girlfriend are also caretakers for. He doesn't want to get involved and can't be reached without going through the man & girlfriend first, his tenants, who have put up no trespass signs on his property to discourage us from talking to him.
After the court case, they quieted down for a while and left us alone, but things picked back up when I got another surveyor in May of this year, to this time do a full survey & property map. The original surveyor just staked my property for $50 as a favor to me without creating a stamped map - at the time I didn't think I needed a full survey but after the actions of my neighbors it was clear I did. My neighbors had also long ago taken up the stakes from the original surveyor. My neighbor, the man in this case, interrupted me and my surveyor, saying all this was "petty sh*t" and he wouldn't let my surveyor work until his landlord came out and calmed him down. My surveyor never finished the job or contacted me again, likely because of the man's behavior. I got discouraged for a while but in August I got another surveyor and this time stayed home all day to make sure no interruption happened. Still my neighbor, the man, interrupted, tried to tell my surveyor which property line to go off of, and gave him an old survey map from 21 years ago. I had a long conversation with the man and he promised to not get involved any more, but my surveyor didn't finish on day 1, and when he came out the next day to complete the job, the man once again came out, this time getting in my face with my surveyor and his team present and screaming that I'm a lying, two faced son of a b****. My friend, who works from home, had to get off a conference call and calm him down for him to leave and let the surveyor finish the job. The man then stalked us for the rest of the day by sitting on my neighbor's porch across the street and staring at us. I've never seen him on my neighbor's porch since that day in August.
Things got totally out of hand last month, in September, when my neighbor, this time the man's girlfriend, assaulted my friend with a lawnmower. She grabbed the lawnmower from the man and started mowing our grass, pushing the mower right up against my friend's feet and then screaming at her uncontrollably until another neighbor came out and told her to stop. She said we have a "fake-a** survey", that we let our other neighbor mow our lawn so why can't they, taunting my friend saying what is she going to do about it? I was at work during the incident but left work as soon as I heard and then had a conversation with the man's girlfriend and her landlord that any future harassment of anyone on my property is a criminal matter and I will file charges, and that I hold the landlord responsible for the behavior of his tenants. Since that day my friend has asked me to work from home a lot more because she doesn't feel safe but this is not something I can do long-term.
Later in September, the girlfriend parked on our property, blocking me from parking. I came out, took a few pictures, called the police immediately, and during this time the man threatened to beat me up and the woman threatened to run me over. The police advised me to file a 50C and 2nd degree trespassing and assault charges, which a magistrate has since issued and the case is pending with a DA. During the incident, officer was forced to call backup and told the man & girlfriend to stop screaming because he doesn't want them going to jail. Also in September, the man puffed up and taunted me as I was talking on the phone outside on my property.
Evidence I have:
CAD reports from police for the last two incidents with the parking/threats and man taunting me and pictures/partial recording of the incident.
Partial recording of the lawnmower incident with my friend that her son recorded. It doesn't show the assault but shows aftermath of the woman screaming at my friend.
Recorded court case from last year where neighbors testified to having bi-polar disorder, severe anxiety, taking out charges without any reason against me, etc.
Surveyor and his team as a witness to the man's verbal assault on me.
Neighbor as a witness to some part of the assault/incident with lawnmower. The neighbor was far away and came out after a while, not immediately.
Recording of my conversation with the landlord and the woman where I told them I would press charges if another incident happened after the lawnmower assault & harassment.
Pictures showing leaves moved onto our grass which they admitted to in court last year.
I would greatly appreciate any general advice/feedback to my case, and I have specific questions:
How do I present recordings at court? From researching online, exhibits must be provided to the defendant (my neighbors) and the judge. How do I do this with a recording, do I have to buy multiple recording devices, and what about when we have both audio & video showing their ridiculous body language? What about the 50C recording, which was given to me on a CD that can only be listened to by downloading the liberty court player?
What's the easiest way to get testimony from my neighbor and surveyor without having them go to court all day? Can they just provide written testimony and sign it or does it have to also be notarized?
What facts should I focus on in a 50C case to make it clear that we need these orders? Asking because it may seem at first glance that many of these incidents are minor (leaves, tilling, parking on property, mowing grass) but the way they behave is so out of control and erratic that we don't feel safe being on our property and it causes substantial emotional distress and takes an inordinate amount of time to deal with them, including lost income from work since I'm an hourly contractor and us not being at peace/comfortable on our own property!!