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89 Year Old Woman Arrested for Keeping Football

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BLUE ASH, Ohio — An 89-year-old Ohio woman faces a charge of petty theft because neighborhood children say she refused to give back their football.

Edna Jester was placed under arrest last week and taken to the police station in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash. Police say there had been an ongoing dispute over the errant football and a child's parent called to report that Jester kept the ball after it landed in her yard again.

Blue Ash Police Capt. James Schaffer said Monday that police warned Jester twice and finally arrested her after she refused to accept a citation.

"She chose to take a stand," Schaffer said, saying she told police to handcuff her, but they wouldn't do that.

He said Jester wasn't a troublemaker, but that police had been to the neighborhood several times to try to mediate similar disputes.

Jester must appear in mayor's court next month.

She said Monday she didn't have time to discuss the incident, saying she has received many phone calls about it.

The football, valued at $15, is being held for evidence, Schaffer said.

The potential maximum penalty for a petty theft conviction in Ohio is six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Schaffer said he suspects the mayor or presiding magistrate will take into account her age and lack of criminal record when the case comes up.

I'm unsure who's in the right here. Is the woman entitled to give back the football since it was continually thrown on her property without her consent? I mean I can understand the argument that if a stranger drove his car onto your driveway, I doubt somebody would argue that you have the right to take possession of his car even though he was tresspassing. Hmm... any takers?

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I'm unsure who's in the right here. Is the woman entitled to give back the football since it was continually thrown on her property without her consent? I mean I can understand the argument that if a stranger drove his car onto your driveway, I doubt somebody would argue that you have the right to take possession of his car even though he was tresspassing. Hmm... any takers?

Yeh, no way the ol' hag can keep the ball. But, I'm guessing she has the right to call the cops who'll end up issuing the 'tresspassers' a warning (or a fine).

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I'm unsure who's in the right here. Is the woman entitled to give back the football since it was continually thrown on her property without her consent? I mean I can understand the argument that if a stranger drove his car onto your driveway, I doubt somebody would argue that you have the right to take possession of his car even though he was tresspassing. Hmm... any takers?

This is the kind of comon neighborhood problem every kid and homeowner eventually goes through. It shouldn't escalate to police action one way or another.

For the sake of argument, both parties are at fault, but the ball's owners more so. I mean, it can't be easy for an old woman to constantly go to the yard and throw the ball back, or to let the kids in to get it. And they have no right to keep invading her property. So they should ahve taken measures to rpevent it (a net, a fence, playing someplace else, something).

But I seriously think involving the police is ridiculous and extremely childish.

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She's just being a grumpy old bitch. There's one in every neighborhood - "Stay off my damn lawn!" *shakes fist at kids* I saw her on the news this morning, the police asked her to return the ball, and she refused, saying it's "a matter of principle." Maybe so, but this is a stupid way of going about standing on principle. If kids play ball, it's going to end up in your yard sooner or later. Just toss it back to them and go about your buisiness.

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the police asked her to return the ball, and she refused, saying it's "a matter of principle."
In this case, the principle is that she is illegally keeping property that is not hers -- the name of that is theft. If she wants to stand on principle, she would bring a case in court, based on negligent failure to control a rubber ball, that the children must compensate her for their wrong actions. If a court finds in her favor, she might be awarded the ball. The principle that she is working under is that she is above the law.
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We had neighbors who didn't like having balls end up in their yard.

The solution? They put up a chain-link fence. Balls bounced back into our yard. Problem solved.

At the same time, it was made clear to us, that any toys that ended up in the neighbors yard were lost forever. Both parties took steps to avoid the problem, and we were more careful from then on.

Edited by MichaelH
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The principles are property rights and the government's limited role in society, namely, in this case: STAY OFF MY GOD DAMN PROPERTY!!.

As far as the police are concerned that should be the only concern. It certainly isn't theft, since the owner of the property did not steal the ball. In fact she was probably watching jeopardy in her own house. (she also didn't obtain it by fraud unless there was a "This yard has a forcefield around it that will bounce your football right back to you" poster on the fence, and it's right next to a special needs school.--I'll admit, that's a bit wordy for a joke which isn't all that clever)

It should be illegal for anyone, including the police, to enter her property for any reason, as long as no one there violated someone's right to their freedom or property.

Remember the principle, as to the role of the police (and government) in a free society: arrest those, and only those, who violate others right to freedom and property. Now I'm not a fancy lawyer or a police captain, but I'm pretty sure it is physically impossible to violate someone's rights, while sitting in your house, watching TV.

When you allow the police to enter people's back yards to get balls(or in this case arrest them because they felt the owner should've allowed someone on her property to get a ball) , the slippery slope argument is a perfect fit: under the same principle of "common sense" (which tells us she probably should be more neighbourly), the use of your land to build an important highway, etc justifies eminent domain. (after all it is common sense that land should be used to everyone's best interest, just as the old lady should act in a peaceful, friendly community's best interest)

Despite me being the only one who feels this way (on an objectivist website on top of things), this is the right stance on the issue, and you don't have to be a grumpy old lady to believe it. You can be the nicest person in the world, who would always get up and throw back a ball to a kid, you should still stand for a property-owner's absolute right to their property.

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The principles are property rights and the government's limited role in society, namely, in this case: STAY OFF MY GOD DAMN PROPERTY!!.

Only if she could guarantee that no other persons property could ever cross her property line.

As far as the police are concerned that should be the only concern. It certainly isn't theft, since the owner of the property did not steal the ball.

Really? Are you saying that she didn't refuse to return something that didn't belong to her?

It should be illegal for anyone, including the police, to enter her property for any reason, as long as no one there violated someone's right to their freedom or property.

But she did violate the property rights of the person who owned the ball. Would you suggest that if I accidentally dropped my car keys over your fence onto your lawn that you would have a right to refuse to return them because they happened to land on your property?

When you allow the police to enter people's back yards to get balls(or in this case arrest them because they felt the owner should've allowed someone on her property to get a ball) , the slippery slope argument is a perfect fit: under the same principle of "common sense" (which tells us she probably should be more neighbourly), the use of your land to build an important highway, etc justifies eminent domain. (after all it is common sense that land should be used to everyone's best interest, just as the old lady should act in a peaceful, friendly community's best interest)

Your slippery slope argument is utter rubbish. She has an obligation to return the property that is not hers having not made it impossible for a ball or anything else to land by accident in her yard.

Despite me being the only one who feels this way (on an objectivist website on top of things),

Nice try at an argument from intimidation. :):)

this is the right stance on the issue, and you don't have to be a grumpy old lady to believe it. You can be the nicest person in the world, who would always get up and throw back a ball to a kid, you should still stand for a property-owner's absolute right to their property.

We are. The property rights of the owner of the ball are not subordinated to the property rights of the owner of a home, the old lady has no right to keep the ball no matter where it ends up.

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It seems like in this case there is a mixture of lacking principles. The kids kept playing in a place where the ball could get tossed in her yard, she kept enabling the behavior, then she withheld the property. Unfortunately our legal system is so mucked up that neither party would have the money to be able to start a legal suit over the ball, and would probably get laughed at by a judge, so it seems that in this case the children's parents are using the police as a baton in place of legal action. In other words 'Since I can't sue her for the ball back, I'll have the police come down and arrest her on the City's money.'

It's a waste of police manpower, a waste of money, and a waste of some children who are now being taught that technicality of law is righteous.

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It certainly isn't theft, since the owner of the property did not steal the ball.

ORC 2913.02 Theft:

( A ) No person, with purpose to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or exert control over either the property or services in any of the following ways:

(1) Without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent;

....

( B ) (1) Whoever violates this section is guilty of theft.

The requirement elements are all there, and it is plainly theft. You may be confusing theft with robbery.

It should be illegal for anyone, including the police, to enter her property for any reason, as long as no one there violated someone's right to their freedom or property.
That is primarily covered by trespassing, and that is why it is necessary for her to return the property to the owner (after a trial).
Remember the principle, as to the role of the police (and government) in a free society: arrest those, and only those, who violate others right to freedom and property. Now I'm not a fancy lawyer or a police captain, but I'm pretty sure it is physically impossible to violate someone's rights, while sitting in your house, watching TV.
The law and moral principle is very simple. Theft, which is a violation of a person's right, is obtaining and manintaining involuntary controy over a person's property. Edited by DavidOdden
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It looks like I was wrong. After I reread the article, I realised she was arrested for refusing to accept a citacion.

If you dropped your car keys into my yard once, the government might have the right to step in and force me to return them. I did not take this argument into consideraton the first time, so I guess I dropped the proverbial ball on this one.

I still think a football being repeatedly thrown into someone's yard is a different issue though, and perhaps there should be a limit to how many times some old lady has to get up and give it back.

I'm still not convinced though that this is theft. I'll just have to think it through: you did convince me of the fact that it is an issue the government should decide, when it cannot be resolved between the parties.

Nice try at an argument from intimidation.

Don't be silly. :lol:

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ORC 2913.02 Theft:

( A ) No person, with purpose to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or exert control over either the property or services in any of the following ways:

(1) Without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent;

....

( B ) (1) Whoever violates this section is guilty of theft.

The requirement elements are all there, and it is plainly theft. You may be confusing theft with robbery.That is primarily covered by trespassing, and that is why it is necessary for her to return the property to the owner (after a trial).The law and moral principle is very simple. Theft, which is a violation of a person's right, is obtaining and manintaining involuntary controy over a person's property.

But she is within her rights to keep the ball's owners off her property, even if it means they aren't able to retrieve it, right? And she clearly can't be forced to physically give it back to them - what if it were something bigger that a little old lady wouldn't be able to move by herself. And while the ball's owners have a right to their ball, they don't have a right to violate the old lady's rights in order to enforce their own (in this case, since the old lady is simply taking no action at all - she didn't take the ball, they forfeited it, in a sense - she's not initiating force so they can't retaliate with force). It's obviously petty though and especially when the police came for it, she should have given it back, if not long before (on as many occasions as necessary). Or at least leave the balls in her yard and try not to mind when the kids go in to get it. If that's the principle she's standing on then I can't say I disagree with the principle, if not with the act of making a mountain out of a molehill.

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The main problem I have with the whole situation is that the woman is being forced to perform an action unnecessary for her wellbeing simply because of the irresponsibility of another group. She didn't cause the kids to throw the football into her yard, and she shouldn't have to go out of her way to fix a situation she didn't cause. In this case, the inconvenience to her would be quite minor, but that's irrelevant. You can't just draw a line and say that at some arbitrary point, the need of one owner necessitates action from another (the action being solely for the benefit of the former person.) That would be fundamentally altruistic.

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But she is within her rights to keep the ball's owners off her property, even if it means they aren't able to retrieve it, right?
Yes, she would have to return it to the owner if she won't allow the owner to retrieve it. But she's also within her rights to erect a fence to prevent the ball from landing on her property, and the burden really isn't on her to prevent this from happening. I'm not sure exactly how this would play out legally, but dumping trash or throwing footballs on someone else's property is a form of trespass, which is illegal. Then the law can require the trespassers to stop trespassing.
And she clearly can't be forced to physically give it back to them - what if it were something bigger that a little old lady wouldn't be able to move by herself.
Which it isn't. But anyhow, a person cannot legally steal the property of another person because it ends up in their possession. So in this case, she has to give the ball back to the kid, if she won't let the kid on to the land. Or, she can permit some other person to carry it.

Her fundamental error was thinking that she can rightfully take the law in her own hand, and did not need to heed the legal warnings or accept the citation. The real issue is whether we are to live in a civilized society governed by law, or do we live by force and mob-emotion. I sympathize over the annoyance of kids not keeping their balls under control, but this kind of contempt for law and the use of objective reasoning as the proper means of resolving disputes is a very serious matter. Thus, she is right that it's the principle; she just was completely wrong about what the most important principle is.

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It shouldn't escalate to police action one way or another.

Well, that depends on what you mean by 'shouldn't'. If you mean that either or both parties should be reasonable enough to either work out an agreement, or simply assume responsibility for their actions and change their behavior such that neither violates the other's rights, then yes, I agree. However, it's precisely why it becomes a police matter in instances like these where such reasonable accord cannot be struck. So that is exactly why it should become a police matter if someone's rights have been violated, reasonable efforts to resolve the problem are unsuccessful, and the next step would be further right's violations (outside emergency situations). In other words, ideally there should be no need for the police at all and yet the need remains. Sometimes people will refuse to be reasonable.

I have seen situations like this countless times where two or more neighbors have some disagreement and completely refuse to rationally work out the problem together. In far too many instances they become cases where either or both parties do exactly what David has alluded to; take the law into their own hands.

There are a number of ways Granny could have handled this prior to how it ended up. Not knowing more, perhaps she tried some of these things.

1) Address her concerns with the kids. If that doesn't work -

2) Address her concerns with the kid's parents. If that doesn't work -

3) Call the cops the next time they trespass (after having been warned now several times in the past not to) and request the information she needs to take them to court for trespassing.

Keeping the ball is not a legitimate option on that list. It is true that she is the first victim in this case. However, based on the circumstances there is no justification for her deciding to make a victim of the ball-owner. Her legitimate recourse was to call the police to assist in resolving the matter and it sounds like she did not pursue that option.

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  • 11 months later...

They threw the ball into her yard. I'm not quite sure what obligates her to make any effort on her part to return it.

She's not stealing, she's not doing anything. By refusing to return the ball, she's simply refusing to take action her part that the police, the parents, and the children are claiming she is obligated to take.

I'd understand if she went outside, grabbed the ball, and put it in a safe - but that's not what she did. She simply refused to take action.

Even in the case that Zip posted, where he accidentally drops his car keys on my lawn, I have no idea what OBLIGATES me to pick them up and give them back to him. It was his action that put it on my lawn, what about his action states that I must take action to return those keys, balls, whatever?

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I'd understand if she went outside, grabbed the ball, and put it in a safe - but that's not what she did. She simply refused to take action.

This part of the article suggests that she actively kept that ball instead of simply passively not returning it.

"...a child's parent called to report that Jester kept the ball after it landed in her yard again."

There is not enough information in the article to describe exactly how she denied them the property. I'm guessing that there was not an insurmountable barrier that a kid could not have gone over to retrieve the ball if it were merely laying unattended on her property.

Edited by RationalBiker
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After the first time she had to return the ball the parents should have talked to her and made an arrangement (kind words, cake, payment etc.). Simple as that.

Now they have to live with the consequences and buy a new ball, but they have a new chance of talking to her.

Calling the police on her of course destroyed the relationship and her garden will become a black hole :D (assuming she wins the case)

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Wow, guys, talk about thread necromancy.

In my personal opinion, you can't settle matters like these with reference to the law or what the law should be because the legal matter under dispute is NOT the reason for the disagreement. The real problem here is that people are irrationally pissed off and no one is behaving in a civilized manner. BOTH parties are guilty--the kids of trespassing, the elderly woman of theft.

If I were the cops involved, I would have arrested *EVERYONE*, complainer and complainee alike. It doesn't matter if the charge won't hold up, they'll have to spend an obnoxious afternoon getting fingerprinted and Sitting In The Cell To Think About What They've Done. And I'd explain it to both parties as "well, normally I don't believe in Time Out for poor behavior, but as police, this is really the only option available to me when people's parents obviously didn't do a good enough job of teaching them how to resolve disputes". Then I'd try to arrange time for some friendly and empathetic person to sit with them while they were cooling their heels and hopefully work it out while they were forcibly immobile.

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I think the principal culprits here are the parents of the brats in place for not teaching their offspring to respect the property of others. Sorry David, but I side with the woman. You keep throwing your things in my yard? Say au revoir to them.

If I own a box and you put stuff in my box, is it my responsibility to keep them there for you and give them back to you? If you keep putting them in my box over and over against my consent, is it my responsibility to hold on to it and give it back to you at your convenience? What if I want to use my box for something else? The line gets crossed at some point, and the stuff in my box becomes mine to eliminate as I desire- because I am not responsible for it, yet your continuous placing of things there (against my will) forced it upon me. Point of the matter is the brats are infringing upon her property - and 'grumpy old bitch' aside, I thought the whole point of our philosophy was that everyone had the right to be a grumpy old bitch within the confines of their private property if they so wished.

In this case, the principle is that she is illegally keeping property that is not hers -- the name of that is theft. If she wants to stand on principle, she would bring a case in court, based on negligent failure to control a rubber ball, that the children must compensate her for their wrong actions. If a court finds in her favor, she might be awarded the ball. The principle that she is working under is that she is above the law.
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  • 3 months later...

As far as I'm concerned, the kids lost the right to their ball when they threw it into her yard. The lady could have been benevolent and given it back, returning the ball to their possession and making it their property once more. But she didn't have to.

Kain and a few others worded it nicely. What obligates her to to have to expend effort to return everything that is thrown onto her property? If the lady were obligated to take action and expend effort to return the ball, the kids could buy a sack of baseballs and toss every single one onto her property to force her to pick them all up and return them all to them, only for them to toss them back again. She would be jumping through hoops for the sake of giving them their property back.

What difference does it make whether she kept the ball or threw it in the garbage? Objectivist rights amount to a right to take whatever action you wish as long as you don't interfere with another person's right to action. Nowhere in Oism does it say you are obligated to take any sort of action to benefit another person.

Those children are not the proper beneficiaries of that woman's actions.

EDIT: I'd like to elaborate a bit about Oist rights. By my understanding, the right to property is the right to keep what you earn. IE, nobody can take what you've earned away from you, because that would mean the work you expended to gain that property was, in effect, work expended as the slave of the person who took the property.

It's one thing to take from someone something that they have earned. It's another thing entirely to take what you've earned, and then throw it away onto someone else's property. The work you or your parents did to earn that ball wasn't expended as that woman's slave for her keeping your ball. It was expended for nothing, for your having lost the ball in the first place. It's like you threw fifteen dollars onto that woman's lawn and then expected her to return it to you.

Maybe it was an honest mistake, a misplaced throw; but that's part of reality. You don't have a right to have your mistakes corrected for you. You have to deal with them and (hopefully) learn from them.

Edited by Amaroq
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What difference does it make whether she kept the ball or threw it in the garbage?
The difference between theft and cleaning up. Keeping another person's property is theft, discarding it is not. Consider this alternative question: what difference does it make whether the kids had entered her property to retrieve the ball, versus not doing so. Answer: by not retrieving the ball, they demonstrated their mature respect for the property rights of another. By taking and keeping the ball, the woman has "exerted effort", so the "why should she exert effort" argument falls flat. The effort which she had to put forth in order to so thoroughly disrespect the law speaks adequately to her character.
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David, I see a problem with the argument you presented in response to mine.

She is not allowed to keep someone else's property, but she is allowed to destroy it? Both of those acts equally deprive the children of their property (the ball), if I'm understanding your logic correctly. Your concern here doesn't seem to be the woman's independence, but rather the childrens' being deprived of property.

What I'm arguing for is that the children forfeited the right to the ball when they threw it onto the woman's yard. She did have to expend effort to take the ball, yes. And arguably, she expended more effort in keeping it in the face of everything that's happened. I think that my effort argument, and indeed my entire post, still stands, and here's why.

I argued, "Why should she have to expend effort?" What I should have said was, "Why should she be forced to expend effort?" The first sentence would make more sense, both to you and admittedly to me, if I emphasize it in this way: "Why should she have to expend effort?"

The effort she expended was expended willingly. A requirement that she give it back once she had it would mean that any further effort (and arguably the initial effort) was forced from her. I think that once she picked the ball up off of her lawn, it was effectively hers until and unless she gave it back.

EDIT: (Or not an edit, since I've only previewed my post thus far, not actually posted it yet.)

Or maybe your concern is upholding the current law(s) surrounding theft, since you seem to be arguing from currently established law and respect for that law rather than a purely moral standpoint. Part of living under a government is agreeing to abide by its laws, so that does lend legitimacy to your argument. Are you arguing in terms of morality or of law?

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