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Notorious Sonoma County Landlord/Tenant Case Finally Comes to a Close After 4 1/2 Years

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Smith v Cook .jpgLANDLORDS BEWARE!

According to a Press Democrat article dated April 8, 2010, Gwen Smith seemed like the perfect tenant. The 53-year-old single mother was articulate and bright, had good references and talked about using her law degree to help crime victims and other women raising children on their own.

But what Landlord Connie Cook didn't know when she handed over the keys to her converted barn in 2009 was that she was opening her doors to trouble.

According to court records, Gwen Smith runs a "scam pattern". "She seeks a kind landlord, moves in and never intends to pay anything but the first month's rent." Gwendolyn Smith, has eviction cases against her in at least three states that we know about. She is an accused serial squatter who has frustrated landlords using a tactic of legal delays afforded to her by California's tenant friendly legal protections.

Gwen Smith's tactics were found to be "intentional, malicious, and outrageous" by retired Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Mark Tansil.

Continue reading "Notorious Sonoma County Landlord/Tenant Case Finally Comes to a Close After 4 1/2 Years" »


December 24, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone



January 1, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone



December 24, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone


Santa Rosa Landlord Constance Cook vs. Sonoma County Tenant Gwendolyn Smith, The Appeal

August 10, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

ostrich_head_in_sand.jpgAs any reader of my blog knows, Gwendolyn Smith has appealed the $49,635.96 judgment against her. Just like she did in the trial court, Smith was able to prolong the appeal by filing several motions for extensions of time. For those who are interested, below you will find (1) Smith's opening brief, Cooks Brief, and Smith's Reply Brief. If you read nothing else, you will enjoy Smith's Reply Brief. It says all that you need to know. I shall not say any more on that subject. For the full case docket click here.

I almost did not have time to write this post as my "white van" had to be taken back to the "CIA". I also am "biding my time" and will be ready to stand up to protect my clients from the tyranny of others. (You need to read Smith's Reply Brief for this to make sense).

Appellants -Gwen Smith- Opening Brief.pdf (Gwen Smith)

Cook Respondent Reply Brief.pdf (Constance Cook)

GS Reply Brief.pdf (Gwen Smith)

Remember, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

North Bay Tenant Accused Of Evading Rent For Years - Santa Rosa Landlords Beware!

October 28, 2011, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Dark-Evil-41164.jpgAs reported by CBS 5,

As the California rental market heats up, landlords need to do their homework.

Connie Cook bought a Sonoma County property eleven years ago, hoping to spend her retirement years there. Her plan was to rent out the converted barn to help pay the mortgage.

That plan was working well, that is until a single mother moved in with her teenage son in 2009.

Soon afterward, Gwen Smith, the new tenant, started complaining that a gas leak and unhealthy water were making the apartment uninhabitable.

Then, Smith stopped paying rent. But when Cook tried to evict her, Smith, who has a law degree, fought back in court by filing motion after motion - all while paying no rent.

A judge eventually ruled that Smith's conduct was "malicious," and her numerous court filings amounted to "tactical delay." He awarded Cook $49,000. But, unfortunately for Cook, Smith appealed the judgment, and that case is still pending.

It turns out this wasn't the first time Smith had stopped paying her rent.

As Connie Cook's finances dwindled, she turned to her local legal aid office, which told her they knew Gwen Smith. They called her "notorious."

Sebastopol homeowner Barbara Wilt rented part of her house to Smith in 2008.

A few weeks after moving in, Smith allegedly changed the locks, and began complaining that the apartment was uninhabitable.

But, when Wilt tried to enter the house to fix the alleged problems, she was met with a nasty surprise: the police.

Smith had called the police claiming someone was trying to break in. In one encounter, Smith even pepper sprayed Wilt.

"I just felt this liquid on my face, started swelling up, couldn't see, it was horrible," said Wilt.

When Wilt took Smith to court, Smith countersued, claiming she and her son suffered "property damage, illness, infections, and emotional trauma" - all from living in Wilt's "hellish basement."

Wilt eventually won a default judgment for more than $42,000. But Smith appealed that judgment as well.

A month ago, after three years of legal battles and a trip to the Supreme Court of California, the Supreme Court ruled in Wilt's favor, upholding the judgment against Smith.

And that's just two cases. CBS 5 found a total of eight judgments in eviction proceedings against Smith in four states.

Smith's law degree helped her work the system, but experts say California's tenant protection laws worked to her advantage.

According to attorney Jim Sansone, tenants can withhold rent while a case is pending. Faced with motion after motion, most landlords, he said, simply give up.

"I have a lot of landlords who come to me and say, you know what, I am going to figure out what the cost of defense is, and I am going to offer that to the tenant and waive all my rights," said Sansone.

CBS 5 offered Smith a chance to share her side of the story. After two weeks we tracked her down to the small town of Forestville.

Smith wouldn't speak with us, and her most recent landlord didn't want his name used. But, he did tell CBS 5 that Smith stayed for three months without paying rent.

The day after our encounter with Smith, she moved out of the Forestville home. Her whereabouts now are unknown.

Meanwhile, Barbara Wilt is still waiting to collect on her judgment.

"I still am just so flabbergasted and shocked and so disappointed and disillusioned with our justice system," Wilt said.

Connie Cook is still waiting for her money too. But, even if she gets it, it is already too late. Living on Social Security and with no rental income, Cook fell behind on her mortgage payments and lost her farmhouse to foreclosure.

"It breaks my heart, just breaks my heart," Cook said.

Continue reading "North Bay Tenant Accused Of Evading Rent For Years - Santa Rosa Landlords Beware!" »

2011 Relay For Life of Santa Rosa California Is Here

September 10, 2011, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Logo.gif flags.jpg
9/10/2011 10:00 AM - 9/11/2011 10:00 AM at Maria Carillo High School

52 Teams & 619 Participants

JVS Law is a proud sponsor of the 2011 Santa Rosa Relay For Life.

The Law Offices of James V. Sansone Is Moving To A Different Santa Rosa Location

August 30, 2011, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

ServeAttachment.ashx.jpgEffective September 1, 2011, in an effort to better serve its clients throughout the North Bay area of California, including Sonoma County, Mendocino County, Lake County, Santa Rosa, Napa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport and Kelseyville, JVS Law is moving to the Atrium Court: 1260 North Dutton Avenue, Ste. 135 Santa Rosa, CA 95401.

The move will allow JVS Law to add additional support staff to better fulfill its mission statement, specifically to focus on personal attention and timeliness to its clientele.

Remember our objective has always been to set a new standard for quality, affordable legal services, by extending an exceptional level of experience, personal attention and timeliness, at a price that cannot be matched by large or specialized boutique firms.

We refer to this as "The JVS Difference," and it is our duty to ensure that our clientele experience and benefit from our pledge to quality assurance, without compromise based on compensation.

JVS Law Supports The American Cancer Society And Is A Sponsor Of the 2011 Santa Rosa Relay For Life

JVS Law is sponsoring the 2011 Relay for Life Survivor's Brunch which is scheduled for Saturday April 30. The brunch is designed to honor those individuals who have been affected by cancer and to drum up support for this year's event.

The brunch is scheduled for Saturday April 30th and begins at 10:30am. This year's 24 hour relay event is scheduled to begin on September 10, 2011 starting at 10:00am and will last until September 11, 2011 ending at 10:00am.

Anyone can develop cancer. About 1,529,560 new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed last year. Cancer is an awful disease and none of us can afford to rest until a cure is found. Support for the 2011 Santa Rosa Relay for Life is one small way people can take a stand against this dreadful disease so one day the words "you have cancer" can be eradicated from our vocabulary.

JVS Law Is Once Again Proud to Sponsor The 2011 Relay For LIfe Survivor Appreciation Brunch

Logo.gifSanta Rosa Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society invites you and your family to The Survivor Appreciation Brunch which is scheduled for Saturday April 30th at 10:30am. The brunch will be held at St Luke's Lutheran School and Church located at 905 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa CA 95401. The brunch is open to all cancer survivors and their care takers.

This brunch is Santa Rosa Relay's way of honoring and welcoming all survivors into the 2011 Relay season.

Space is limited to the first 120 people to RSVP. RSVP by April 16th to

This year the Santa Rosa Relay for Life is scheduled to begin on September 10, 2011 starting at 10:00am and will last until September 11, 2011 ending at 10:00am. The relay will be located at Maria Carillo High School in Santa Rosa.

Sonoma County Bankruptcy, Divorce, Family Law, and Eviction Attorney KFTY 50 Commerical

February 10, 2011, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

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