Do you think that someone who would blatantly trespass to land and even criminally trespass, try to hide it by pointing out the elements of trespass and then slipping up to admit having committed trespass, would be truthful – even under oath? What if their job depended on them lying? What if the jobs or others or maybe even a lawyer’s license depended upon them lying? That’s a lot of pressure to lie and it seems to be the situation that HSPCA “investigator” Michielson is in.
It takes a village… to do just about anything, especially in these modern times. Few of us live in a rustic cabin on a mountaintop where we kill our own food, do all the maintenance on our little cabin that has no running water or plumbing. Few of us are or want to be 100% independent and we are mostly social creatures too. Whether we rent or buy our homes, they are modern and need repairs which are often made by virtual strangers. We finance everything and that means mandated insurance on homes which often comes with mandated inspections.
I think most of us expect those who come into our homes to do these chores for us, those WE pay (directly or indirectly) to do these chores, to respect our privacy. Sure, if they see something related to the job they are doing, they have to report that. That’s the job. Sure, if they see something of concern, I’d expect them to raise the issue with me in my home. I even expect them to call the law if they see something so illegal that they have concerns for the public. But one calls the LAW, the police, law enforcement. One does NOT call some private activist group!
I grew up in the “Loose lips sink ships” era. Gossip has always been around and probably always will be. Bad enough some contractors or service people we have to have in our homes shoot of their mouths on things that are none of their business at the local bar but now we’ve got some out there who think they have some right to really butt into our private business.
Posted comment: “Linda - Ms. Matthews, As a journalist, do you not have a duty to check your facts before disseminating your story?... the "meter reader" was actually an insurance inspector who was asked to be there…” My, my, is that Prosecutor Linda being critical of us not knowing who instigated the Gracia “investigation” AFTER she tried so desperately to keep that information a great big SECRET, after she argued in court that his identity was “privileged” although his call was to the HSPCA, not law enforcement of any kind? I think it is and Prosecutor Linda has NO business telling others to do their fact checking given her own lousy score for doing so.
Yes Prosecutor Linda you did finally put the insurance inspector on the stand and he was “asked to be there” to INSPECT for INSURANCE purposes. His job was to inspect, complete a report for the insurance company. PERIOD! This nosy ass bastard then called the Houston SPCA. I wasn’t present for this guy’s testimony but that’s all I really need to know about him. He saw something while being paid to do a job and, instead of raising his concerns with the property owner or getting ANY facts, he picked up the phone and called the HSPCA; not the LAW. He should be ASHAMED of himself.
What this insurance inspector did was, at best, an egregious invasion of privacy. We should all be seriously considering mandating Nondisclosure Agreements that include liquidated damages clauses before letting people cross our property lines if you ask me! In other words, call some invasive NPO and you end up owing me $1,000,000 so shut your mouth!
Well, the insurance inspector made the call to the HSPCA and enter HSPCA”s “inspector” Deborah Michielson, also known as Debbie Michielson. Michielson, like her team members, wears a round badge on her waistband that is deceptively like the Texas Ranger badge, round metal with a big star in the middle. Yeah, don’t tell me these aren’t wannabes who couldn’t make the law enforcement grade! These “inspectors” are private employees of a private non-profit organization (NPO), a corporation created and run for private purposes. These “inspectors” are NOT law enforcement of any kind and they have no more authority than any other citizen resident.
In fact, in Texas, we have laws governing law enforcement and private security through Title 10 of the Texas Occupations Code.
- "Private investigator" means an individual who performs one or more services described by Section 1702.104. Texas Occupations Code Sec. 1702.002(18).
- Sec. 1702.101. INVESTIGATIONS COMPANY LICENSE REQUIRED. Unless the person holds a license as an investigations company, a person may not:
- (1) act as an investigations company;
- (2) offer to perform the services of an investigations company; or
- (3) engage in business activity for which a license is required under this chapter.
- Sec. 1702.104. INVESTIGATIONS COMPANY.
- (a) A person acts as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the person:
- (1) engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information related to:
- (A) crime or wrongs done or threatened against a person, state, or the United States;
- (B) the identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person;
- (C) the location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property; or
- (D) the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property;
- (2) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;
- (3) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, the electronic tracking of the location of an individual or motor vehicle other than for criminal justice purposes by or on behalf of a governmental entity; or
- (4) engages in the business of protecting, or accepts employment to protect, an individual from bodily harm through the use of a personal protection officer.
- (b) For purposes of Subsection (a)(1), obtaining or furnishing information includes information obtained or furnished through the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public. The repair or maintenance of a computer does not constitute an investigation for purposes of this section and does not require licensing under this chapter if:
- (1) the review or analysis of computer-based data is performed only to diagnose a computer or software problem;
- (2) there is no intent to obtain or furnish information described by Subsection (a)(1); and
- (3) the discovery of any information described by Subsection (a)(1) is inadvertent.
My goodness, it looks like one has to have a license to go snooping around in other people’s business! I wonder if there are any penalties for snooping without a license. Goodness, indeed there are!
- Sec. 1702.381. CIVIL PENALTY.
- (a) A person who is not licensed under this chapter, who does not have a license application pending, and who violates this chapter may be assessed a civil penalty to be paid to the state not to exceed $10,000 for each violation.
- (b) A person who contracts with or employs a person who is required to hold a license, registration, endorsement, or security officer commission under this chapter knowing that the person does not hold the required license, registration, endorsement, or commission or who otherwise, at the time of contract or employment, is in violation of this chapter may be assessed a civil penalty to be paid to the state in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each violation.
- (c) A civil penalty under this section may be assessed against a person on proof that the person has received at least 30 days' notice of the requirements of this section.
- Sec. 1702.382. INJUNCTION.
- (a) An attorney for the department, the attorney general's office, or any criminal prosecutor in this state may institute an action against a person to enjoin a violation by the person of this chapter or an administrative rule.
- (b) An injunction action instituted under this section does not require an allegation or proof that an adequate remedy at law does not exist or that substantial or irreparable damage would result from the continued violation to sustain an action under this section. A bond is not required for an injunction action instituted under this section.
- Sec. 1702.383. ACTION FOR CIVIL PENALTY OR INJUNCTION. If a person has violated a provision of this chapter for which a penalty is imposed under Section 1702.381, an attorney for the department, the attorney general's office, or any criminal prosecutor in this state may institute a civil suit in a Travis County district court or in a district court in the county in which the violation occurred for injunctive relief under Section 1702.382 or for assessment and recovery of the civil penalty.
- Sec. 1702.3835. DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICE.
- (a) A person who performs or offers to perform an activity regulated under this chapter, but who is not licensed or otherwise authorized under this chapter to perform the activity, commits a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice within the meaning of Section 17.46, Business & Commerce Code.
- (b) A public or private right or remedy under Chapter 17, Business & Commerce Code, may be used to enforce this chapter.
- Sec. 1702.386. UNAUTHORIZED EMPLOYMENT; OFFENSE.
- (a) A person commits an offense if the person contracts with or employs a person who is required to hold a license, registration, endorsement, or commission under this chapter knowing that the person does not hold the required license, registration, endorsement, or commission or who otherwise, at the time of contract or employment, is in violation of this chapter.
- (b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Sec. 1702.3875. IMPERSONATING SECURITY OFFICER; OFFENSE.
- (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
- (1) impersonates a commissioned or noncommissioned security officer with the intent to induce another to submit to the person's pretended authority or to rely on the person's pretended acts of a security officer; or
- (2) knowingly purports to exercise any function that requires registration as a noncommissioned security officer or a security officer commission.
- (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Sec. 1702.388. VIOLATION OF CHAPTER; OFFENSE.
- (a) A person commits an offense if the person violates a provision of this chapter for which a specific criminal penalty is not prescribed.
- (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the person has previously been convicted under this chapter of failing to hold a license, registration, endorsement, certificate, or commission that the person is required to hold under this chapter.
- Sec. 1702.389. VENUE. An offense under this chapter may be prosecuted in Travis County or in the county in which the offense occurred.
You can check for licenses on-line, both individual and company. Houston SPCA does not appear to have a license; nor does Debbie Michielson. None of these individuals appear to have licenses listed in this database: Charles Jantzen, Trisha Price, Shawn Sundberg, Bob McClintock, Randy Farmer, Mark Lutkenhaus, Liz Pavlicek. In fact, most of these surnames don’t appear in the database at all. There are 3 listings for Robert McCarty and one of them might actually be for the Robert McCarty who works at HSPCA and claims to be a former police officer. No matter as it sure looks like there are plenty of violations going on and there are some pretty stiff penalties even for those who are licensed and both civil and criminal penalties for those who are not.
Dear Prosecutor Linda certainly shouldn’t be encouraging ANYONE to violate laws, should she? Gee, I’d think it was her DUTY to seek injunctions against and PROSECUTE those violating the above laws, wouldn’t you?
Oh, that’s right, there might be some kind of contract between Harris County and HSPCA so maybe someone further up the food chain, perhaps the Texas AG, should be investigating whether or not that constitutes Unauthorized Employment or some other violation of these statewide laws. The Texas Attorney General can be contacted many different ways and you can find all those methods on his website.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has a page on complaints for violations of the private investigator licensing/regulating laws. Complaints in the Houston area can be emailed to the Texas Private Security Board at PSB_HoustonComplaint@txdps.state.tx.us.
In my little old opinion, there’s an NPO (HSPCA) that has been intentionally violating the above laws on private investigations for YEARS and that they’ve been at it so long that they might well be violating other laws. Let’s see…
Michielson made a big deal of testifying about not “trespassing” and listing the elements of trespassing. What she specified are actually the elements of criminal trespassing. However, Michielson actually testified, under oath, that she opened a gate on the property and walked through it. THAT is indeed criminal trespassing. Michielson made a bit of a big deal about the difference between an open and closed gate too. However, the statute says: “fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock”. Not a damned thing in there about gates having to be closed or even that the fencing has to complete. It says “designed to” and, while it may not be doing its job or even that the livestock contained within are easily restrained with little fencing, that is NOT an invitation to strangers to come on in!
I have no doubt Michielson may have picked up this hair splitting from some law enforcement folks who probably get away with such things BUT Michielson is NOT a law enforcement officer. She has admitted under oath to criminal trespassing and should be prosecuted for it.
In Texas, criminal trespass is even in the same chapter with burglary. Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because we consider privacy and property important here and think one who’s trespassing might be a burglar?
BEYOND THAT, there is also civil trespassing. “Trespass to land is a common law tort that is committed when an individual or the object of an individual intentionally (or in Australia negligently) enters the land of another without a lawful excuse. Trespass to land is actionable per se. Thus, the party whose land is entered upon may sue even if no actual harm is done… For a trespass to be actionable, the tortfeasor must voluntarily go to a specific location, but need not be aware that he entered the property of a particular person… The maxim "cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos" (whoever owns the land owns it all the way to the heavens and to hell) is said to apply…”
You see, owned land is rather sacrosanct. Not only should one not enter but one should not even cause an object to intrude upon another person’s property. If something appears to be private property, it should be respected as such and people should stay the hell out!
HSPCA’s Michielson entered upon the Gracia property which is rather clearly private property with improvements. There are 2 houses, outbuildings, and other improvements on the property and the houses are set back from the road. Not only did she trespass upon the front of the property but she proceeded to trespass behind BOTH homes, including the one that was clearly occupied and in use, to go through and around fencing. All of this based upon a single call from an insurance inspector. All of this all by her little lonesome and prior to calling law enforcement. If that doesn’t scream PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR and TRESPASSER, I’m not sure what does.
Debbie Michielson is NOT a do-gooder kid. She is a 48 year old woman with a High School education who has worked as an animal control officer in Norfolk, Virginia. That should be more than enough to know better than to go trespassing on private property. “Norfolk prohibits people from leaving their dogs tied up longer than 12 hours - which makes it hard to enforce, an animal control officer said. ‘I don't have officers that sit at somebody's house for 12 hours and testify in court that the dog never left the chain,’ said Norfolk Animal Officer Deborah Michielson.” Gee, that sure sounds to me like she’s saying, if it’s hard, take a shortcut. It just wouldn’t surprise me one tiny bit to find out she took a few shortcuts and that’s why she’s no longer with animal control in Norfolk; that she went actively looking for a group that would encourage shortcuts and law breaking. Maybe some place like HSPCA with its page to take information from “complainants”?? Like those HSPCA badges that look deceptively like the Texas Ranger badges, I find HSPCA using the term “complainant” to be disturbing. That is a term of art, a legal term. Whether in a civil case or a criminal case, the “complainant” is the one initiating the process and this is NOT done by going through an NPO.
The HSPCA is a bunch of wannabes who wannabe law enforcement but are NOT so they do everything they can to give the appearance of authority they do NOT have. In that wannabe mindset, Michielson trampled all over the Gracias property and it appears she was encouraged to do so by a County Constable's and County Attorney's past actions and I think that may well equal "under color of law". If so, that's unlawful search and seizure, plain and simple.
During Michielson’s first visit to the Gracia property, she claims to have left a notice demanding that the Gracia family call the HSPCA. Let’s assume I believe she left such a notice (I don’t but let’s assume I do). So the F what? They have NO authority to be there in the first place and NO one has an obligation to call them EVER. Prosecutor Linda wants to make it look like there might have been some other outcome if the Gracias had contacted HSPCA during the few hours between when Michielson allegedly left a notice and when she returned with a County Constable. To expect citizens to SUBMIT to the demands of a trespassing employee of an NPO that has NO authority is ABSURD and OUTRAGEOUS in the extreme!!! How dare Prosecutor Linda even infer such a thing???
And, if Prosecutor Linda IS saying they've been treating the NPO of HSPCA as some form of law enforcement, that means they are acting under color of law. If so, they should most certainly be held accountable for their violations of civil rights, for their unlawful searches and seizures and the County should be held accountable right along with them for, at a minimum, allowing it and, more likely, encouraging it.
I think Prosecutor Linda has her head screwed on backwards. Instead of prosecuting HSPCA for apparently violating multiple laws, she seems to be encouraging their lawless activities and joining in their scofflaw actions.
What do we do if we’re up against a bunch of scofflaws who think their cause is more important that the law? Why, we follow the law and use it to fight back, of course. Whatever state you are in, you need to find your state laws on line and start reviewing them. Finding civil laws can be more complicated but criminal, penal, laws are usually readily available. Here’s a bit mostly for the Texas crowd to take a look at:
A little over 3 years ago, “Both chambers of the Legislature overwhelmingly approved” “a bill that gives Texans a stronger legal right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, cars and workplaces”. This is the Castle law or Castle doctrine (and other states and countries have it too).
"The right to defend oneself from an imminent act of harm should not only be clearly defined in Texas law, but it is intuitive to human nature. You ought to be able to protect yourself," [Governor Rick] Perry said, surrounded by lawmakers who pushed for the law.
Of course it is intuitive to human nature to protect one’s self and one’s property from others! It is inconceivable to me that Gov. Perry who carries a .380 with laser sight and loaded with hollow-points; who used that weapon to kill a coyote to protect his dog would approve of activist employees of an NPO criminally trespassing or otherwise infringing people’s property or other rights. I certainly wonder what he would think of a County prosecutor supporting such activities by an activist, trespassing NPO/HSPCA employee.
Dear Gov. Perry, I need your assistance. Could you please see that Harris County, Texas stops allowing Houston SPCA to trespass in backyards, on private property, especially within fenced areas and wearing badges similar to the Texas Ranger badge. Please stop them from violating the private investigator laws when they don’t have licenses to be private investigators. Please look into the conduct of County prosecutors who seem to condone and encourage these activities by HSPCA and other animal activist groups. I write to you because I firmly believe they will continue their activities until someone dies when some property owner finally shoots them pursuant to the Castle doctrine.
I wonder how many emails we can get sent to him in the next week. You in?
In Texas, one has the right to defend oneself and one’s property and that sometimes includes the use of deadly force in that defense. Review the Texas Castle Law and then lock and load. When PROSECUTORS are supporting CRIMINAL trespass, we need to protect ourselves and HSPCA employees like Michielson need to know that we will do so.
Both in Texas and in other jurisdictions, WE have criminal and civil laws at our disposal too. We need to use them. Animal owners who have loved their animals and had them thieved by activists like those at the HSPCA have even committed suicide although THAT rarely gets media coverage. These activists harm both animals and humans and we must stop them and take the higher, lawful road while doing so.
There are many other criminal laws at our disposal and, like trespass, many criminal laws have companion civil actions. We need to be verbal and active and not wait for seizures and legal proceedings. These abuses of humans and animals need to stop NOW. It infuriates me to have seen an email circulating accusing that the Gracias would go off on a "cruise" with money contributed to their fund. It infuriates me because I have an idea of what just the JP proceeding cost out of pocket. I'll provide more details later but the court reporters alone and just for the JP proceeding cost in excess of $5,000. They had to post a bond of over $40,000 and they've withdrawn that from retirement. What kind of SLIME is out there making such allegations? I don't know and I don't EVER want to know anyone who would do such a thing to torpedo another human's efforts to obtain access to a court.
Fully funding one of these cases with a paid legal team which most would need to hire can EASILY run over $100,000 and that's without any bonds that have to be posted. That's the reality we're up against because prosecutors are allowed to drive up the costs of these cases. So we can't wait to fight these cases one at a time. That is only part of the battle. We have to get on our state and federal AGs, our Governors, our Legislators, our Prosecutors, our Judges... We need to ride their asses to remind them that our animals are OUR property and activists need to keep their freaking hands off them. That activists MUST be held accountable for their criminal acts even if that means they lose their lives as a direct result of their own actions. The choice is theirs.
If the activists want to escalate (and clearly they do), then, well, this is Texas and they may just find we are ready for the challenge. I know I'm not alone when the state has so recently and overwhelmingly approved my lawful rights to defend myself and my property.