Tree house case climbs toward Supreme Court

The tree house still stands beachside in Holmes Beach. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The tree house case may be heard by the highest court in the land. Owners Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear the case.

The hope of Tran and Hazen is that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case and overrule a previous decision made in the city’s favor.

City leaders have demanded the tree house be removed. Tran said she’s applied for a demolition permit but she hopes she never has to use it. The attempt to move the case to the Supreme Court is a last-ditch effort by the owners to save the tree house from the wrecking ball. The legal battle between the city and Hazen-Tran has been ongoing for several years after the two-story structure was built in an Australian pine tree on the edge of the Angelenos Sea Lodge property.

Attorney Jim Dye, representing the city, said in a Nov. 22 e-mail to Mayor Bob Johnson there’s no set timeline for the court to review the case. Typical procedure is for the justices’ clerks to review all briefs for certiorari review before passing them along to the justices, who have the final say on whether or not the case is heard. Dye said the Supreme Court typically only hears cases pertaining to federal issues. Thus far, a federal issue has not been raised in the tree house case.

This new motion is not to ask for a judgment by the court but rather to determine if the court will devote any time and effort in hearing the case.