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JUDGE SLAPS down screaming park neighbor

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Friday, December 21st, 2007 at 5:55 pm in Just Bizarre.

MBRSometimes, the legal system doesn’t err on the side of common sense. Fortunately, an Alameda County judge saw and ruled with the obvious Thursday. The judge slapped a three-year restraining order against Art Maxwell of Berkeley, who has screamed and cursed at parents and children because of noise levels at Becky Temko Tot Park, next to his home. (Maxwell also can’t enter the park and must pay $7,500 in attorney fees. To learn more, read Doug Oakley’s story in the Times.)

Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman shot down Maxwell’s free speech argument: “Mr. Maxwell, it is a park and when you moved in, it was already there. When you move in next to a park, there is going to be noise. If you think the park is a nuisance, you can petition the city to have it shut down, but you cannot enforce your own version of the law to try to keep the park quiet.” Excuse us for a moment while we clap out loud.

I feel for Maxwell’s medical condition (he suffered a spinal cord injury in February and now “rests” at home), but there is no rationale reason for cursing at small children and blaring music outside to intimidate them. Instead, Maxwell needs to adapt his condition to his longstanding surroundings. Try ear plugs. Invest in dual-pane windows. Move. It’s just too bad it took a court of law to point out the obvious.

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