Littering Statute Lands BSO in Heap of Trouble
|Darrin Podder's "litter."|
Like a lot of people, Podder wasn't too clear on what Florida Statute 403.413, the "Florida Litter Law," really means. That isn't too surprising, considering the BSO deputies who arrested Podder that day didn't really know either. In fact, FS 403.413 appears to be a statute in desperate need of cleaning up.
Podder, a landscaper, had gone to replant some trees at the newly constructed Carver Homes Redevelopment Project. He'd previously planted six trees along the swale there, but the trees died. So he went over to fix the problem. Podder was planning to dig up the dead trees with his backhoe and put them temporarily across the street at Phase II of the project, which was still unfinished. Then he was going to unload the new trees from his truck, plant them in the empty holes, load the dead trees onto his truck, and drive away. The job, he thought, wouldn't take more than a couple of hours.
But Podder had no sooner dug up the first 20-foot tree and moved it across the street with the backhoe when BSO deputy Willie Jones showed up.
|A view of the public right-of-way Podder's tree was blocking.|
Podder's attorney, Hugh Koerner, filed a civil suit against BSO for false arrest and imprisonment, alleging that "no reasonably cautious police officer would have believed Podder was guilty of a criminal offense." The hilarious depositions taken for the case read like something out of a William Gaddis novel. "I fully intended to demonstrate what a mockery this was," Koerner told the Juice, "a mockery of justice. This statute needs to be fixed!" Two weeks ago, Podder won a $30,000 judgment against BSO.
|This dead shrub cost BSO $30,000.|
We emailed a handful of Broward legislators this morning to ask them about your littering laws. We'll update as soon as we hear back.