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Judge settles lawsuit filed by neighbor

A general district judge sued by a neighbor amid a bitter dispute over a sliver of land has settled the malicious prosecution claim for undisclosed terms.

Botetourt County Judge William H. Cleaveland reached an agreement with neighbor Michael J. Vaughn at the courthouse where trial was scheduled Wednesday, according to The Roanoke Times.

Vaughn’s lawsuit accused Cleaveland of using his influence as a judge to have Vaughn arrested and booked for mowing “cover vegetation” on the disputed land.

The suit was the culmination of a three-year conflict between the neighbors in a Roanoke-area suburban development. Cleaveland and his wife sued to enforce a covenant that barred a shed on Vaughn’s property. Later, the Cleavelands asserted ownership of the disputed parcel on the basis of adverse possession.

When Vaughn mowed his lawn, including the disputed parcel, in April of 2015, Cleaveland brought charges of trespassing and damaging property. Vaughn claimed Cleaveland abused his authority to have Vaughn arrested at his home that evening.

A special prosecutor dropped the charges.

Cleaveland was represented by J. Scott Sexton of Roanoke. Vaughn was represented by Christopher K. Kowalczuk of Roanoke.

“We feel justice has been done,” Kowalczuk told the paper Wednesday.