Jim Ficken is not a criminal, has never been in jail, and is a model citizen in the town of Dunedin, Florida. However, the government dealt a massive blow to property rights by fining him $30,000 and threat of foreclosure — because his grass grew too tall while he looked after his mother’s estate.
The entire police state overreach began for Ficken in 2018 when he was out of town trying to take care of his late mother’s estate and his grass did what grass does, it grew. Knowing that it is unpleasing to neighbors to grow long grass, Ficken hired a friend to cut it for him while he was away, but that friend died and Ficken had no idea.
“The grass did what grass does… and a code inspector saw it was more than the 10 inches the city allows and Jim was on the hook,” said Andrew Ward, one of Ficken’s attorneys from the Institute for Justice.
IJ plans to appeal the decision but for now, it means that governments can impose maximum fines for petty code violations without first providing notice that the fines are accruing.