Whitman Discusses Land Owner Who Was Ordered To Pay $2.3 Million For Clearing Forest Without Permit
UF Law Visiting Professor Dale Whitman (pictured left) recently was quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat in an article discussing a Leon County landowner, Johnny Petrandis II, who was ordered by a judge in September to pay a $2.3 million fine—the largest ever awarded to Leon County—for contempt of court involving his clearing more than 60 acres of high-quality forest in 2004 without a permit. The judge in the case is holding a hearing to determine whether the cost of the environmental damage can be documented and whether Petrandis can pay. This case is being compared to someone getting pulled over for a speeding ticket but claiming they can’t afford to pay it and being left with a warning. Whitman said it’s not the same as arguing a speeding ticket because traffic fines are set in statute. Courts have a lot of discretion to issue contempt of court fines but it is not unlimited. “You can hurt, but you can’t kill—so to speak—financially,” he said. “You have to give an award that is commensurate with the individual’s ability to pay.” Keep up with what UF Law faculty are saying in the media and writing about in scholarly publications in FlaLaw Online’s weekly updates on Faculty Scholarship & Activities.