AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Buckhead real estate speculator: City housing code unconstitutional

The appeal, field Wednesday in Fulton County Superior Court, states that prosecuting Rick Warren for conditions at a house he did not own is a violation of his right to due process. City housing code allows police to cite owners as well as operators of properties that are in poor condition.

“It was reversible error for the trial court to adjudicate the Petitioner guilty of said charges in that he was not the owner, occupier nor operator of the property; thus, he cannot and could not be found guilty as charged,” the complaint said. “Moreover, the evidence submitted was insufficient for a finding of guilty in this matter. Moreover, the Court erred in admitting prejudicial evidence and inadmissible evidence.”

City solicitors tried Warren in June as an operator, not the owner, of the property. He was sentenced to spend 30 days in jail on this and another violation. Jail sentences are rare in housing court.

Warren previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was owner of the business that purchased the house. The investigation led to the citations that resulted in jail time.

No date for an appeals decision has been set.

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