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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 9908
Experience:  Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
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FOR INFOLAWYER please if he wants it, or it is his expertise.

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FOR INFOLAWYER please if he wants it, or it is his expertise. Not sure if this is family law? What can I do to keep a family member from taking my cats away from me? I know they are viewed as property.

LegalGems : Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum. It appears as if most of the CP law attorneys are offline, due to the late hour, so I will do my best to assist you. This would not be a family law issue unless this is relating to a divorce, which doesn't appear to be the case. You are correct in that cats are considered personal property. As such, if a third party attempts to take your property, without your permission, you may bring an action for conversion. This would be accomplished in civil court - small claims. Given the uniqueness of the property (i.e. you can't go out and buy the exact cat at a store), you could request specific performance - the return of the cat. And yes, the police would generally not get involved in a case such as this unless there was a restraining order already in place in regards XXXXX XXXXX issue. As for asking the judge that lives in your building - a judge cannot informally issue any orders. Any claims would need to be made through the proper procedural channels (i.e. filing with the court). Also, if you discuss this with the judge informally, and then later bring suit and are assigned to this judge's calendar, she would have to recuse herself (withdraw from the case) because it would be considered a conflict of interest since she had private one-sided communication with one of the parties.
LegalGems : Here are the elements of conversion- you would need to prove these in order to prevail. Generally vet records may be introduced as evidence of ownership: Plaintiff owns or has the right to possess the personal property in question at the time of the interference;Defendant intentionally interfered with the plaintiff's personal property; the interference deprived the plaintiff of possession or use of the personal property in question; andthe interference caused damages to the plaintiff.
Customer: i know this stuff. Doesnt help. Why? I AM TRYING TO P R E V E N T any event where my cats are taken where I cannot find them and kept for ANY period of time. I NEED something UP FRONT. Police told me if I have that they WOULD stop a cab, or go to someones home (IF I EVEN KNEW WHERE THEY LIVED) and retrieve my 'property'. I need to show
Customer: 'someone' I have this and if you try to take my cats I can show this to the police. I need a pre emptive article/item/document (and what would that be) to show 'dont even try'. Enough about court. PRE, PRE, PRE, emptive action. Not post. I am in no rush. I appreciate your quick access, however if you cannot address MY issue (not the tech, or protocol) please leave for INFO LAWYER. Thank you.
Customer: The judge is criminal, not small claims, anyway.
LegalGems : I'm sorry; I thought that you were asking if the judge would be able to assist you informally -which is why I was explaining the judicial rules regarding the process (you had mentioned a letter from the judge). It would be possible to get a declaratory judgment (re: your ownership of the cat) or a protective order precluding the individual from taking the cat. However, a simple letter from an attorney stating that should they remove the cat without permission would be considered a tortious conversion of your property may serve as a deterrent. If the individual commits trespass in order to steal the cat, then I would expect the police to get involved, as that is criminal act.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

THAT is the kind of information that I needed, sir. Thank you. As to the judge IF she

was willing to help what would I ask her for? A letter, or?? Thank you.

You are welcome. Glad to have provided what you were looking for.

If the judge was willing to help you, a letter would be the proper communication, detailing the legal consequences of taking the cat without permission. However, I would be very surprised if the judge was willing to do so, as judge's are very careful to not use their position for personal benefit (and this includes favors for friends). Most judges will not engage in any type of legal advice/letter writing/etc because it can create conflicts of interest (i.e. if criminal charges are brought against them for trespass) and because it can compromise their professional integrity.

A letter from an attorney detailing the potential consequences would likely be effective, if these people are at all reasonable.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry. I assume 'trespass' is being used differently from unauthorized access? If so, what do you mean? Also, if I found an attorney who would write this kind of letter, what would I call it (to ask them if they would do it)? Thank you,

Trespass is essentially unauthorized access. Butler v. Ratner (This is a NY case that discusses the elements required for trespass). It can be a civil cause of action, and also a criminal cause of action.

The type of letter would be considered a cease and desist letter - that there is a dispute re: possession of the animal, and that the recipient of the letter is requested to refrain from entering the property and/or taking possession of the animal. Or the attorney may choose to send a general letter that details past incidents, and advising the recipient of the type of legal action that will be taken if such incidents occur again.
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