MANCHESTER — A man the city has been after for five years to clean up his North End property ran into a no-nonsense Superior Court judge Wednesday and the hearing ended with an agreement to clean up the property within 30 days.
Nadir Atiya of 703 Maple St. initially didn’t bother to appear for the 9 a.m. hearing before Judge Philip Mangones in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Northern District. Instead, his 64-year-old father, Salahdien Atiya, showed up on his behalf.
The judge asked him where his son was, after explaining the father would have to file the proper paperwork in order to represent him.
“He’s home cleaning up the property,” Salahdien Atiya told him.
“Well, he should be here,” Mangones said, adding he was sure the city was happy to hear he was cleaning it up.
“He’s mentally handicapped. That’s very well established,” the father said of his son.
Assistant city solicitor Peter R. Chiesa told the judge that Nadir Atiya sent his father to court hearings in the past instead of appearing as he should. While he was found incompetent by a judge in Circuit Court in one case, the same judge realized that was not the case after Atiya testified in an unrelated court matter, according to neighbors and city officials.
Salahdien Atiya informed the judge he was “an international law adviser” but conceded he was not a lawyer or member of the New Hampshire Bar Association. He asked the judge to set another hearing date and he would make sure his son appeared.
The judge ultimately told him to call his son on his cell phone and tell him he had until 10:30 a.m. to appear in court. If he did not show up, Mangones said he would enter an order against him by default.
Salahdien Atiya left the courthouse and returned just before 10:30 a.m. with his son, who was dressed in a dark blue, ripped jumpsuit. Nadir Atiya proceeded to the defense table, where he poured himself and his father each a glass of water. He took a long drink of water and then leaned back in the chair, his hands on top of his head with his fingers interlocked, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
When the judge entered the courtroom and the proceeding began, Mangones asked Nadir Atiya if he could hear him, since he had indicated to the court clerk that he couldn’t hear her. “Hi,” Nadir Atiya said. “But can you hear me?” the judge asked again. “Yes,” he said.
“I suggest you take these proceedings seriously,” the judge admonished him. But when the judge asked him if the sheriff’s department had served him with court papers concerning the hearing, Nadir Atiya said he hadn’t, that he never saw a sheriff. “What papers?” he asked. Chiesa told the judge he could see the documents in the file in front of Atiya on the defense table. Atiya then told the judge he did receive them.
But, he asked, why they put “Junior” after his name. “Is this some kind of practical joke?” he asked.
“We are here for a legal proceeding not some farce on the street corner,” Mangones told him. “If you would like to go to jail for contempt of court, I will be happy to put you in jail.”
That seemed to get Nadir Atiya’s attention, and he agreed to a proposed order by the city that requires him to clean up the property of tires, auto parts, firewood and other clutter within 30 days and to provide the court with proof that it is done.
Under the agreement, if the property is not cleaned up in 30 days, the city will be allowed to take care of it and Nadir Atiya will have to pay the cost of abating the nuisance. The city will be able to go after him for payment similar to the way unpaid taxes are collected. Mangones explained it meant the city can chase him for the costs.
“Well, they have been chasing me for a long time,” Nadir Atiya said.
He quickly left the courthouse without commenting but his father told a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter that they had started cleaning up the property two weeks ago, about the time Nadir Atiya was served the court papers.
“Everything will be cleaned up,” said the father who also lives at the Maple Street residence. “I am very sure it will be fine.” About a half-dozen neighbors, along with Mayor Ted Gatsas, attended the hearing.
For years, the city has hauled Atiya into Circuit Court for violating city ordinances with the junk kept on the property.
Sometimes the property gets picked up a bit, but then the junk begins to accumulate again, according to James Tierney, the city’s Code Enforcement Officer.