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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2005 / 8 Tishrei, 5766

A Faulty Law, a Feud, a Fatality

By Jonathan Turley

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last month John Frederick Ames, a bankruptcy lawyer from Richmond, was acquitted of the murder of his neighbor, Oliver "Perry" Brooks [Metro, Sept. 17]. It was the latest chapter in a story worthy of William Faulkner that concerns an arcane 1887 law and a state legislature that refused to repeal it.

The dispute that led to Brooks's death began in 1989, when Ames, who had purchased a 675-acre Caroline County farm from a widow facing bankruptcy, sent his neighbors a registered letter informing them that he was going to build a fence around his property. The letter also said that he was going to charge his neighbors for half the cost of the fence, which amounted to thousands of dollars. Ames said the 1887 law allowed him to bill them for the fence even without their consent.

Ames's neighbors, who included retirees on fixed incomes, received bills of $6,000 to $45,000. All of them, including Brooks, who was living on $400 a month from Social Security, refused to pay. Ames had billed Brooks $45,000 for his share of the fence. Ames reportedly offered to forget about the $45,000 if Brooks would deed over some of his land, but Brooks refused. The case went through the courts, and in 1991, Ames finally prevailed in the Virginia Supreme Court.

His neighbors then scraped together the money for the fence — all but Brooks, that is, who continued to refuse to pay. Ames subsequently sued his neighbor for $450,000 for fence damage caused by a bull that Brooks owned. The bull repeatedly broke the fence and strayed onto Ames's cattle farm. Ames called these bull incursions an "intentional disregard" of his rights. Brooks responded with obstinacy and anger.

The bad blood finally boiled over in April 2004, when Brooks's bull once again strayed onto Ames's land. Despite court orders barring him from entering Ames's property, Brooks went to retrieve his livestock. An armed Ames told him to leave the animal. When Brooks brandished a stick he used to herd the bull, Ames shot in the face and then four more times.

Ames said the shooting was in self-defense. But his acquittal by a jury last month on a murder charge on the basis of self-defense isn't the end of the story. Ames still may get the land that he was seeking from Brooks. He previously sued the Brooks family for $11.3 million in an action that originally cited everything from infliction of emotional distress to terrorism. He recently withdrew that action, but he still has a lien on the Brooks property and an outstanding fence payment that could exceed $150,000 with interest. The Brooks family is suing Ames for wrongful death.

Ames may fit the stereotype of a lawyer who will use any law to his advantage, regardless of the cost to others, but the Virginia General Assembly deserves equal blame for the mess that culminated in the death of a man. It repeatedly failed to repeal the archaic law that allowed the feud to get going in the first place.

When the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ames in 1991, it noted that Virginia was out of step with the common-law rule that a landowner's boundary line is a lawful fence and that a cattle owner is liable for trespass by his animals. Virginia, however, does not impose such liability on livestock owners and allows them to force neighbors to pay toward "fencing out" livestock. Despite the feud and requests for the law to be changed, the legislature did not act. Only after Brooks was dead and Ames was facing a murder charge did it change the law — and then only to exempt landowners without livestock, which would not have protected Brooks.

The common law and most states impose costs on livestock owners for any damage that their animals cause to a neighbor. This sensible "fence-in" approach recognizes that a livestock owner should not be able to impose the cost of his or her enterprise on neighbors.

A fundamental purpose of the law is to reduce conflicts among neighbors by maintaining clear, consistent and fair rules. The Virginia legislature clearly failed in that duty. It may be true that good fences make good neighbors, but the Brooks killing shows that bad laws, like bad fences, make for bad neighbors.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. Click here to visit his website. Comment by clicking here.

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