Local officials and state health officials are finding fault and/or agreeing with James Davis, of Stevenson, Alabama and his front yard burial plot.
Patsy Ruth Davis went to be with her Maker on April 18, 2009 and it was afterward that James Davis, 73, of Stevenson, Alabama hit a snag in carrying out his wife's wishes.
Patsy had asked her husband if she could be buried on the family's property, which happens to be inside the city limits of the town of 2,600.
Davis agreed to make certain his wife's wishes would be followed and applied for a cemetery permit with the city council. "She said this is where she wanted to be and could she be put here, and I told her, 'Yeah,'" Davis said. "I didn't think there'd be any problem."Fox News and NBC News report the city council turned down Davis' request.
James Davis decided the city council was out of line with their ruling and promptly ignored it. With a backhoe and the help of his son-in-law, a grave was dug, a concrete vault was installed and a metal casket containing the remains of Patsy was lowered into the grave.
The city of Stevenson, through city attorney Parker Edmiston, sued Davis to have his wife's remains disinterred and moved to a licensed cemetery, and even offered Mr. Davis two plots in the municipal cemetery, which Davis refused.
At issue are Patsy's last wishes and what appears to a very stubborn streak of "stay out of my life" Libertarianism in the North East corner of Alabama.
Joseph Snoe is a professor of property law at Samford University near Birmingham, Ala. Sone remarks; "While disputes over graves in peoples' yards might be rare, lawsuits over the use of eminent domain actions and zoning restrictions are becoming more common as the U.S. population grows".
Snoe also stated "The United States Supreme Court has said that the states, and the cities through the states, have the power to regulate. But if it goes too far ... then the government's got to pay, and there are certain things the government just doesn't have the power to do,"...
City Attorney Edmiston state that if nothing else comes of the case, which has now gone to the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, there may be a clear definition of what Alabama law considers to be a family burial plot. The Court of Appeals hasn't made a decision yet, and haven't indicated when they might rule on the case either.
"It would be far-reaching if they say anyone can bury someone in their front yard if there are no drainage issues," he said.
Davis' contention is that there are several family burial plots in the city limits, and his is just as lawful. Also, a point of discussion is that the city has horses within the city limits and people have raised pigs within the city limits and the county health department had signed off on the burial with no restrictions. Mr. Davis has chosen to protest the actions of the local government by running for the city council this year. If he gets elected, there could be some very interesting council meetings in the future.
Mr. Davis has stated that the outcome of the appeals court is of little concern to him, and that he will not move his wife's body for any reason. "If they get it done it'll be after I'm gone," said Davis. "So if they order her to be moved, it's a death sentence to me. I'll meet Mama sooner than I planned on it."
In the meantime, Davis is able to visit his wife's grave every time he steps out of the front door of the log home he and his wife built thirty years ago. After forty eight years of marriage, they still have something in common.