steps in to help ex-Marine in dispute over displaying flag
Article Courtesy of Sun Sentinel
By Patty Pensa
Posted May 2 2003
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist
on Thursday intervened on behalf of a former Marine whose homeowner association
is trying to foreclose on his home to collect legal fees in a more than
3-year-old flag dispute.
Crist, in a motion filed in Palm Beach
County Circuit Court, argued the Indian Creek Phase 3B Homeowners Association
in Jupiter is trampling George and Anna Andres' homestead rights.
"It's a case about freedom," Crist said.
"He and his wife have the right to proudly display the American flag."
Crist, who met with Andreses last year,
said he hopes his motion will persuade the judge to rehear the case. He
argues the $20,000 association-imposed lien was not for taxes, repairs,
improvements or labor that benefited the property, but to pay association
"Homestead rights in Florida are very strong,"
Christ said. "The strength of that argument should carry the day ... and
lead him to justice."
The homeowners association allows flags
flown from wall brackets attached to homes. Association members say the
dispute is over the flagpole, while Andres, 66, has maintained he has a
constitutional right to fly the flag from the pole.
Andres' attorney, Barry Silver, filed a
parallel motion in circuit court Wednesday. He also said the homeowner
association cannot collect legal fees by selling Andres' home.
"They are attempting to leave George and
Anna Andres penniless, homeless and destitute because they flew the flag,"
Silver said he was thrilled Crist decided
to involve his office in Andres' case. The Legislature last year passed
a bill allowing people to fly a removable flag "in a respectful manner"
regardless of homeowner association rules.
On Flag Day last year, Gov. Jeb Bush delivered
an American flag to Andres that had flown over the Capitol and helped him
raise it amid cheering neighbors.
"It's a tremendous benefit to have the
top legal office in the state advocating your position," Silver said. "The
Legislature is already with him, the executive branch is on his side, and
now the judicial branch. Certainly that is compelling evidence that George