November 12, 2020
By GREG LITTLE Editor
The case against local landowner Jerry Cox has been delayed until after the first of the year.
In what was supposed to be the final discharge hearing for Cox on Monday ended up being delayed, mainly because of the high-profile murder of Cox’s former attorney, Marc Angelucci.
The Cox case has been dragging through the court system for years. On Monday in Mariposa County Superior Court, Judge Dana Walton ruled because of the circumstances surrounding Cox’s case, nothing will proceed until January.
Cox was found in violation of 101 code violations at his Bison Creek Ranch north of the airport in Bear Valley. Cox has argued for several years he was not in violation, however, the court ruled he was and appointed a receiver in the matter.
That receiver, Mark Adams of California Receivership Group, has been the subject of Cox’s ire for years, who argued Adams padded the expenses authorized by the court.
In California, receivers can be appointed by the court to determine how to fix code violations. The court allots funds to the receiver and those funds are then determined appropriate or not during a discharge hearing. That was what was supposed to happen on Monday.
In the process of the proceedings over the past few years, the court did order the sale of the ranch. Angelucci had argued the sale price was half of the appraised value, but the court ordered the sale. The hearing on Monday was how to deal with the proceeds of that sale, including how much would be awarded to the receiver.
Interestingly, it was Mariposa County Counsel Steve Dahlem who recommended to the court that proceedings in the matter be delayed because of the death of Angelucci.
Angelucci, 52, was gunned down in his San Bernardino County home in July. The man accused of killing Angelucci was the same person who killed the son of a federal judge in New Jersey just a couple of days after Angelucci was killed.
Since that time, Cox has submitted documentation to the court that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office took into evidence all of the documentation related to Cox’s case that was in Angelucci’s home. Cox told the court the sheriff’s office has not set a firm date as to when that evidence will be released.
Cox said because of that, he has not been able to retain an attorney since all of the documentation is in the hands of the sheriff’s office. That played a factor in Monday’s hearing.
Andrew Adams, the son of Mark Adams and the attorney representing California Receivership Group, argued Monday the matter should move forward.
One of the biggest issues facing the court was whether Cox could represent himself in the case. Because JDC Land Co., which Cox owns, is a limited liability company, state law seems to dictate an attorney must represent Cox in the case.
“We have not raised the issue of JDC being represented by counsel,” said Andrew Adams.
“If we are incorrect on that, where do we find ourselves?” said Walton.
That’s when Dahlem stepped in and offered his opinion.
“The county’s position is we do not proceed because it is not due process,” said Dahlem. “Mr. Cox cannot represent an LLC. There are legal details in the matter. Not to mention the extremely adversarial details in the matter.”
Dahlem said the county believes Cox should have “adequate time to get an attorney.”
“Frankly, I was leaning in that direction quite strongly,” said Walton. “It is clear from this court’s understanding of the law that an LLC must be represented by an attorney. That’s the entity we are dealing with in this particular action.”
Walton went on to say that “frankly, Mr. Cox has found himself in a situation where he has lost his attorney.”
The judge said it was “through extremely tragic circumstances. Mr. Cox has not provided any authority, nor has anyone else, to allow him to appear and to suggest this court make that finding without this authority would not be appropriate.”
In fact, said Walton, it was Angelucci who “got the LLC reinstated in order to proceed in this matter.”
He also called the position of the county “clear” and said it was “consistent with what the court has concluded prior to arguments.”
Walton said he thought it “too early to go forward with the discharge hearing.”
The judge then turned to Cox and told him it was time to act.
“You are going to have to get counsel and it is going to have to be a reasonable period of time,” said Walton. “This court has found you cannot represent the LLC. Don’t come back until you have legal authority.”
When Walton allowed Cox to speak, it wasn’t for long.
Cox said he is “homeless and this has been going on for five years.”
He then proceeded to raise questions about the murder itself, saying there “is a video of” Mark Adams’ security guard at a train station in Los Angeles where the alleged murderer left to go to Angeluccis’ house.
That did not sit well with the judge.
“You are editorializing,” said Walton, who threatened to “turn off ” the video feed of Cox.
Cox said it will likely be 30 to 60 days before the evidence is released.
Dahlem recommended the court set a status conference for Jan. 11 “in light of the holidays.” He said at that time, it could be determined the status of Cox’s representation. He then added if Cox doesn’t have counsel, the court could proceed “with JDC in default.”
Walton agreed, setting the status conference for 2:30 p.m. on that day. He told Cox if he appears without a lawyer he “would have a problem. There will be no further continuances.”
The judge also warned Cox to “take the admonition seriously as it is. I believe this is the only fair and appropriate resolution today. I know everyone would like to have this matter go forward and be concluded.”
Andrew Adams then asked if the discharge hearing could be continued until that day.
“I am not going to do that,” said Walton.
Cox then requested time to make a statement.
“We are in recess and off the record,” said Walton, and the hearing ended.