My long awaited debate with the CAI (Community Associations Institute) lawyers on substantive issues relating to HOAs has finally come about. Well, almost. The CAI member law firm and attorney for the HOA responded to the amicus brief submitted to the Arizona Supreme Court by this homeowner rights advocate in Gelb v. DFBLS, CV 10-0371-PR. In short, two issues are addressed: the constitutionality challenge itself, and the alleged political bias by the appellate court in its decision holding the statute unconstitutional.
First, the Response simple reiterates its Response to the Petition for Review, maintaining that the issue was already settled by the appellate court.
Second, as to the arguments advanced in the amicus brief that the appellate court allowed political considerations to influence its opinion, the Amicus, that’s me, is painted as a conspiracy believer. “The amicus curiae closes his brief with a conspiracy theory about the involvement of undersigned counsel in this case and other cases in which the constitutionality of the statute was challenged.” The CAI member attorney defends his rush to file this appeal, which occurred as a result of the Phoenix Townhouse v. AZ OAH superior court default decision, with “legal counsel had the obligation to raise every issue available that could result in prevailing for his client in the pending case.” However, this sidesteps the question raised in the default Phoenix Townhouse case, still unanswered by the attorney, as to the legal standing of the real person in interest, Ron Meritt, who had left the HOA prior to the constitutionality challenge. Smith coud not risk opening this door again.
In unsupportable conclusions, the attorney, Jason Smith, charges me with suggesting that his constitutionality challenge was made to intimidate homeowners from filing suit. That does not follow logically. The challenge, as stated in the brief, was that the HOA attorneys weren’t looking too good and had to end the success of OAH adjudication. Further far-fetched charges made by attorney Smith include that I “liken undersigned counsel and his firm to henchmen for authoritarian regimes suppressing the rights of homeowners.” The record before the Arizona Legislature over the past 10 years and statements made by the firm are well documented in this respect. Smith adds, “The conspiratorial hyperbole notwithstanding”, we were just doing our job for our client.
Furthermore, in an unbelievable statement echoing that of the CAI amicus brief before the NJ appellate court in Twin Rivers HOA free speech case, Smith firmly states that, “It is clear from the that the amicus curiae simply wants to impose constitutional protections on members in homeowners associations. The law has never supported that proposition.” Let me rephrase that statement:
The law has never supported the proposition that homeowners in HOAs are entitled to constitutional protections.
A copy of CAI’s Response Brief with its above in-your-face statement of the law should be sent to every state attorney general, every state legislature, every state real estate department, and every state’s consumer watchdog and consumer protection agency. This declaration by Smith, p. 8, should be highlighted as evidence of misrepresentation and fraud in the sale of planned communities and condos, and homebuyer protections demanded.
Finally, in Smith’s gratuitously offered proposed solution, as all those of us who have attempted to obtain justice from our state legislatures well know, and as CAI — the national lobbying organization supporting the HOA establishment — and attorney Smith well know, the legislatures have not accepted the fact that the HOA laws are unconstitutional special laws for private organizations, as these laws cannot be supported by a necessary and compelling government interest. This level of judicial scrutiny is necessary to deny due process and equal application of the law protections to the residents in de facto, yet unrecognized HOA private governments.