ATLANTA — Attorneys for two Gainesville couples who are next-door neighbors and have been feuding for years argued before the Georgia Supreme Court Monday regarding the constitutionality of “good behavior bonds.”
“My clients want peace,” said attorney Vanessa Sykes, who is representing Andrew and Penny Leeuwenburg, one of the two couples who live on Woodlake Drive, which is off Club Drive that leads into Chattahoochee Country Club.
With sufficient cause that a person’s behavior may injure or disturb the peace or property of another, a judge can issue a “good behavior bond” with reasonable conditions for up to six months, according to Georgia law.
The Leeuwenburgs have applied for multiple bonds against Ken and Rochel Parker, who allegedly installed “a large number of wind chimes” near their property and installed security cameras pointed at their property, according to the court’s summary.
Among other conditions,the bonds have prohibited the parties from having contact with one another and their respective properties and not photographing one another.
“By the third, they thought they were being bullied,” the Parkers’ attorney Jeff Filipovits said Monday.
Filipovits acknowledged that the neighbors have been “involved in various disputes over the years” and argued the section of law is too vague. The Parkers’ attorney claimed the statute does not give a reasonable expectation for what conduct may lead to a “good behavior bond.”
The justices raised questions to Filipovits on how the statute differs from any other criminal statute governing personal conduct and how the Parkers have standing to bring the case.
Filipovits said the couple is seeking judgment on an issue that the Parkers may still face in the future.
When questioned on the frequency of the bonds, Sykes said the case was unusual for her firm.
“The idea behind this particular kind of case was to resolve the drama with as little money and court time and litigation as possible,” she said.
Sykes said there is no threat of litigation at this time.
“Might there be in the future? I just don’t know,” she said.
Outside of the courtroom, Rochel Parker said the issue began roughly four years ago when she called the city for code enforcement about her neighbors, who she said had trash in their yard. She said she was advised by code enforcement to take pictures.
“I have photographs of lots of problems,” Parker said.
Parker said she was then summoned for a good behavior bond hearing, having never heard of such a thing.
When asked about the wind chimes, Parker said she moved them to other side of the property.
“My other neighbors never complained at all,” she said.