Fix a Fence, Go To Jail

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An article in the Daily Breeze, a suburban Los Angeles newspaper, reports that Francisco Linares is going to jail because he repaired a fence belonging to the affluent city of Rolling Hills Estates. Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson chastised Linares, a Farmers Insurance district manager, for violating the municipal code and sentenced him to six months in county jail.

Linares, who owns a home in Rolling Hills Estates, asked the city to repair a white three-railed fence behind it. He was told that the fence was on his property. After he replaced the termite-infested planks, the city reversed itself and stated that Linares had illegally built the fence on city property.

Linares had to get permits for the fence and other code violations. He claims that he tried to comply, but was unable to because of the city’s confusing building codes. The city claims he failed to resubmit an application that had been deemed incomplete. Richard Hamar, Linares’ attorney, asks, IiWhat will society gain if you put this man in jail?”

Perhaps the question should be, what will society lose? In “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand says, IiBut just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers…. ” Indeed.

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