U.S. Supreme Court takes Lozman case
Updated On: Mar 06 2012 07:49:56 AM EST
When you watch the video above, you'll probably think: There has to be something else to this ... how can a city run a man out of town and destroy his home like that?
And you would be right. There is more to the story of Fane Lozman. After he stopped a $2.4 billion yacht center from taking over the city marina where he lived, the city initially tried to evict him by claiming he had a dangerous dog.
The vicious beast? A ten-pound Dachsund named Lady.
Even before that, I witnessed the police harass Lozman at the behest of then-Marina Director George Carter, who backed the development and went on to get a big job with the developer, Viking Yachts (which was partnering with Wayne Huizenga's Rybovich company on the plan).
He fought the eviction in court without a lawyer and beat the city's expensive outside attorneys to win the case. A jury sided with him that the city was retaliating against him for stopping the redevelopment.
During this time, Lozman would go to city commission meetings to speak his mind during the public comments sections of the meeting. But when he would say something the commissioners didn't like, they would have him physically removed from meetings, at one point arresting him for trespassing and disorderly conduct. The charges were of course dropped, since they were clearly in violation of the First Amendment and the city's own rules.
You'll see footage of Lozman getting manhandled and arrested at meetings in the video.
The city was then determined to rid itself of Lozman and it did it this time by changing the marina rules to make it impossible for him to live there, namely by requiring that all boats have propulsion. Lozman's floating home had no propulsion. When he couldn't comply with the new lease, the city cut off his electricity. Lozman went back to state court, which ordered the electricity back on. With the state court in Lozman's corner, the city then did something very devious: They went to the federal government and claimed he was breaking federal maritime rules by trespassing on the marina.
Then, just like that, three armed, flack-jacketed U.S. Marshals came to his home on the marina, got him out of there, and had his home towed to Miami. Lozman fought in federal court, but U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas rather incredibly sided with the city and ordered Lozman's home to be auctioned off on the Miami courthouse steps.
City officials were the high bidder and bought Lozman's home only to have it destroyed the next day. They must have thought they were finally rid of Lozman on that day.
Not so. After losing his appeal, Lozman found Stanford University's Jeffrey Fisher, one of the top Supreme Court lawyers in America, on the Internet. Fisher took his case. And the U.S. Supreme Court, which takes less than one percent of cases it is asked to review, took the Fane Lozman case. It's expected to be heard in October.
And that's the rest of the story.