When we fight, we win!
It has been beautiful to see the courtroom completely filled day after day with the community of support for Chloe and her Sky Without Limits neighbors. Once again, the community showed up for Chloe in a big way today for the third day of trial. The courtroom had only standing room again during closing arguments! More than 90 people signed up for a total of over 500 hours of court shifts this week. I see the energy and power that is available when our community comes together. I know that our community will keep Chloe and her neighbors in their homes, no matter what.
Today, Steve Frenz’s attorneys started the day out by offering two motions that were quickly shot down by Chloe’s legal team and by the Judge. They tried to argue that it was “completely unconstitutional” that Frenz would be required to have tenants in his buildings while he himself couldn’t hold a rental license. I got the impression that they saw the writing on the wall that their client was completely unbelievable and, it looked to me like, they were making a last-ditch effort to get an issue on the record in case they have to appeal the Jury’s decision if they rule in Chloe’s favor. They lost that argument quickly and the day moved on.
Frenz’s attorneys gave a closing argument full of, what I thought, were misleading statements and partial information. They did their best to push a narrative that Frenz’s decision to evict his tenants, including Chloe, was “not personal” but just a “business decision”. They held up that Frenz “prayed with Ms. del Campo Chacon” and is a “church going man” - conveniently leaving out that he stormed into her unit without notice or consent, while she was breastfeeding her child and ordered her to “get out”. I found the most laughable moment to be when Frenz’s lawyers referred to Chloe and her neighbor’s complaints as “just a coincidence” happening at the same time as lawsuits and evictions. Frenz’s lawyers also tried to assert, against the facts, that no “good faith” complaint made its way to Steve Frenz, ignoring almost all of the first two days of testimony completely. Finally, they referred to all the evidence that Spiros Zorbalas is ready to sell the five buildings in question, right now, to the tenants, as a “distraction”.
Chloe’s attorneys fought back with a strong and straightforward closing argument. I found that they straightened out all of the confusion Frenz’s lawyers tried to burden the jury with. They reminded the jury about all of the phone calls, requests, demands, and protests that Chloe and other renters with Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia pursued over the last seven years. These requests went unanswered for years, resulting in terrible conditions for so many families. Chloe’s lawyers also reminded the Jury that a Jury of 12 recently unanimously found Frenz to be guilty of lying in court in a similar case, against similar tenants, less than 6 months ago. Lastly, Chloe’s lawyers closed their argument by reminding the jury that the law in question in this case asks whether or not even part of Frenz’s motivation for evicting Chloe was retaliatory, “even 1%”.
After a week of trial we are feeling very positive about the case, but know that nothing is certain until it's done!
Jury Deliberation - No Verdict Yet!
The Jury left the room to deliberate at 11:30am. Because there are 2 different ways that a landlord can illegally retaliate against tenants they will have to reach agreement on 7 different questions that relate to different aspects of the law. Once the Jury gives a verdict, which in this case is answers to those questions, the Judge will give a legal interpretation of the verdict and make a ruling on what will happen next with Chloe’s eviction.
Unfortunately, the Jury has not made a decision yet, and will continue deliberating into Friday. We will continue our wait tomorrow morning for their verdict, but there is no way to know how long it might take them to reach a decision. Join us tomorrow at *10am* as we wait together for the verdict! We will be hanging out on the *23rd floor* of the Hennepin County Government Center until we learn that a verdict has been reached, and then we will return to courtroom #1357. The building has free (but slow) wifi. Feel free to bring board games, projects, or other things to keep occupied!
----Angela Tona, Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia Supporter