Federal Judge in Florida Takes a Big Bite Out of Liberty
A U.S. district court judge in Florida ruled against a homeowner who was fined $30,000 and threatened with having his house seized because his grass was too tall.
Jim Ficken, a Dunedin resident, was out of state tending to his late mother’s affairs when local officials began issuing citations for his lawn. According to the Institute for Justice, which represented Ficken:
If the decision remains intact, it will mean that local governments can impose maximum fines for petty code violations without first providing notice that the fines are accruing.
Ficken said the citations began when he was away from home for an extended period of time:
“I was out of town when code enforcement officials first noticed my grass was too tall,” Ficken said. “They came back almost every day to record the violation, but never notified me that I was on the hook for fines. By the time I found out, I owed them tens of thousands of dollars. Then, they refused to reduce the fines and voted to authorize the foreclosure of my home. I am disappointed that the court sided with Dunedin, but what happened to me is wrong, and I will continue to fight.”
As he should. Local governments are often far more of a threat to liberty and property than anything coming out of Washington, D.C. This case, unfortunately, only makes that case stronger…with a big assist from a blinkered federal judge.