More than a year and a half after the city put up physical roadblocks at the intersection of Third Avenue and Main Street in Mitchell, the case of the building located there hit another courtroom roadblock Tuesday afternoon.
A Davison County court granted a motion to withdraw filed by R. Shawn Tornow, the attorney who had represented building owner David Finnell since the city of Mitchell filed a complaint against him last June.
Tornow said via phone at Tuesday's hearing that he had not had contact with his then-client since Feb. 1, when Finnell sent him an email around midnight.
Judge Chris Giles said there have also been issues with Finnell paying Tornow.
"Mr. Finnell has not been the best client for you to deal with," Giles told Tornow on Tuesday while granting his motion to withdraw. "The court does not expect you to put in additional time and work for free."
Tornow said he notified Finnell of his motion to withdraw and that the hearing would take place, but Finnell was not present at the hearing, and Tornow said he had not received a response.
Tornow did not respond to The Daily Republic before publication for further comment on his withdrawal from the case.
The building, which has a hole in its south wall and led to part of Third Avenue being closed to traffic since August 2017, is alleged by the city to be a public nuisance that Finnell failed to adequately address after being cited in October 2017 for allegedly violating city codes.
In March, the City Council voted 4-3 against a proposed resolution to the issue, which would have allowed the city to take ownership of the building for $1 by the end of April.
Giles said the next step in the civil case is to have a hearing that addresses all the allegations in the city's complaint. City Attorney Justin Johnson responded by saying he needed time to amend pleadings to make sure all parties involved are included, as he said Finnell transferred the building's ownership from himself to an LLC at some point.
"Rest assured that we're trying to get this done as soon as possible," Johnson said.
A hearing is scheduled for the morning of July 29. Giles said that once allegations have been established, the city will have to provide sufficient evidence to prove the building is a nuisance before the court can consider granting the city relief in the case.