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Fla. Judge Delays Flag-Flying Home Sale

September 26, 2003

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A former Marine who could lose his home because he violated homeowners’ association rules by flying an American flag from a pole can keep the house at least a little longer.

Circuit Judge Edward Fine on Thursday delayed the foreclosure on George Andres’ home until his case is heard by the 4th District Court of Appeal. Fine earlier had set a foreclosure sale for Oct. 9.

The sale would allow the association to collect more than $20,000 in legal fees that have been accruing in the 3-year-old case.

The Indian Creek Phase 3B Homeowners Association permits flags flown only from brackets attached to house walls. Andres objected because the flag would have touched bushes in his yard.

Attorney General Charlie Crist called for the delay, saying that flying the American flag ``is a precious right that ought to be protected.″

``The idea that an ex-Marine wouldn’t be able to fly the American flag obviously is wrong,″ Crist said.

Fine, however, has rejected the state’s argument that Andres’ home was constitutionally protected under Florida’s homestead law.

West Palm Beach attorney Steven Selz, who represents the homeowners association, did not return a phone call seeking comment late Thursday. He has said he hopes the association and Andres can reach a settlement to prevent auctioning the house.

Andres’ plight has attracted attention in Tallahassee, where the Legislature passed a law allowing people to fly the American flag regardless of homeowner association rules. The new law, though, was passed long after the lien was placed on Andres’ house.

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