Problems mount for Craig attorney

Turner now facing eviction

Craig attorney Heather Turner could be evicted from her home by the end of the month.

An eviction order initially was issued Wednesday, but Moffat County Court Judge Mary Lynne James later rescinded that order because of a paperwork problem. On Thursday, a hearing date was scheduled to discuss reissuing the order.

Turner said the order named the property management company, not the property owners, as plaintiffs.

Turner faces eviction because she has not paid October rent on the house, which doubles as her office. The home is on Colorado Street.

Officials with Country Living LLC, the company that oversees the rental, said a pattern of late payments, bounced checks and threats prompted the company to seek eviction. Turner leased the home for one year in February.

"We can't keep going though this every month," said Yvonne Gustin, the Country Living Realtor who manages the rental.

Country Living filed a notice to evict on Oct. 12 after giving Turner a three-day notice to pay her rent. Turner corresponded with Gustin, but didn't respond to the legal action until 11 a.m. Wednesday, two hours before a hearing on the matter was to begin. Turner requested a continuance, stating she had a scheduling conflict, and James agreed to delay the hearing for three hours and 45 minutes.

Turner was scheduled to appear in county court on an unrelated matter late Wednesday afternoon, and James held the hearing then. Turner was present via speakerphone, calling from a pay phone in the Routt County Courthouse.

Country Living Realty requested $877, which included the October rent, court fees and arrears.

On Oct. 18, Turner sent a letter offering to settle the matter for $800. It was too little, too late, Gustin said.

Turner said she thinks the realty company has wanted to force her out from the beginning. She said that she didn't pay her rent to make a point. She said she requested that Country Living improve the property and got no response.

Gustin said Turner wanted the yard cleaned and gravel placed on the driveway.

"I stand up for what I believe is right," Turner said. "I feel that if you make a promise, you keep it."

Colorado law gives tenants other recourses if a landlord isn't doing what he or she is obligated to do. Withholding rent is not a legal option.

Gustin said she has a file of letters from Turner responding to several requests for rent payment the past six months. In one, Turner wrote, "A client in your lovely town bounced a ... check to me. A little patience on your part would have been warranted."

Gustin said Turner frequently threatens to sue the realty company if it tries to collect the rent.

When the eviction order was issued, Turner was given 48 hours to vacate her home. But now that the order has been rescinded, she can remain at least until Nov. 1 and then it will be at the discretion of the judge.

"Why does she get 12 more days because someone couldn't find a piece of paper?" Country Living Realty owner Mary Lou Wisdom said.

Turner said she'll offer to pay Country Living Realty the amount requested and hope it all goes away. "I don't want to move until the lease is up in February, but if I have to, I have to," Turner said.

She said she already has received notice from the property owners that her lease would not be renewed.

Landlords aren't the only people seeking payment from Turner. She was successfully sued by a former employee for wages, and a Jan. 5 jury trial is set in Routt County Court after Turner pleaded not guilty to charges of issuing a bad check and harassment.

In June, Routt County Judge James Garrecht found in favor of Docs Auto Clinic in Steamboat Springs and awarded the automobile repair business $1,786.54.

Owner Brian Small said Turner paid for repairs to a vehicle with two checks, both of which bounced. Small said calls to Turner regarding the bill weren't returned, which drove him to file a complaint in small claims court.

Nearly five months after the judgment, the bill still hasn't been paid.

"I don't want a check, I want cash," Small said.

Turner said she doesn't have a pattern of writing bad checks and the cases in which it has happened were times when clients wrote her checks that bounced.

Turner said she is a public servant and often accepts small retainers or negotiates a lesser hourly fee for some clients in need. "My compassion has led to my own demise," she said. "I guess the solution is that I don't rely on funds until I get them."

In 2003, Countrywide Home Loans initiated foreclosure action against Turner. The case was dismissed at Countrywide Home Loans' request. The attorney representing the company was not available for comment.

Another collection action was initiated in January of 2003, but was dismissed because the plaintiffs failed to appear.

Turner has applied for, but did not get, the position of deputy district attorney in Steamboat Springs. She also has said she plans to run as 14th Judicial District Attorney when that seat becomes available in three years.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.