Pro Bono Work for a Homeless Woman

January 20th, 1992 by

January 20, 1992
To: Mr. Victor Boone

Dear Victor:

This is a conclusion to our efforts involving AAS.

AAS was referred to us, having been evicted (by disconnection of electricity) from her home along with her 9 year old daughter. We first obtained the help of a local church in housing for a night.

Later investigation revealed she had been paying rent regularly but was provided no operating toilet, no water, no usable heat and suffered innumerable other housing code violations. Actual damages were $2,511 which was all the rent she had ever paid.

Suit was brought for breach of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment, Residential Rental Agreements Act and Unfair Trade Practice. A default judgment was obtained for $7,533.00.

Defendant claimed to have no assets. A local surveyor, Smith & Smith Surveyors of Apex, donated its time in locating a one-third interest in 1.2 acres of “lost” property and 2.7 acres titled in the name of Defendant’s former wife, who had long gone up north. We prevailed on the former wife to reconvey the property to the Defendant.

After 13 Sheriff’s sales the property brought enough to:

  1. Reimburse Legal Services its $500;
  2. Reimburse Holleman & Stam $2,300 of court costs advanced by it;
  3. Pay the client $6,500. There were two other judgment creditors who received another $6,500.

Difficulties included:

  1. Finding property to sell and getting adequate bids;
  2. Defendant went into bankruptcy during the course of the sales and then died – necessitating substitution of numerous parties;
  3. A special proceeding was required to determine distribution of the execution proceeds.


  1. The Sheriff of Wake County insists on advertising execution sales in the News & Observer. This is an economically wrong approach when the land is located in the county. It greatly inflates costs and reduces recovery. Can you do anything with him? $3,600 of the sales price went for advertising the two sales.
  2. Volunteers Lawyers Program could thank A. Earl Smith at Smith and Smith Surveyors, P.O. Box 809, Apex, NC 27502, for donating his services.

It was a pleasure to work on this.

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Representative Paul Stam

The writer represents Southern Wake County in the North Carolina House of Representatives.