By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
An appeal by the city for a temporary restraining order against the Living Green marijuana cooperative in Grantville failed, at least temporarily, in Superior Court on Jan. 7.
The City Attorney’s office planned to use the restraining order to ensure that the co-op, located at 4417 Rainier Ave., could no longer continue the illegal operation it had been conducting since July while waiting for approval for its conditional-use permit.
But Judge John Meyer, after a somewhat contentious hearing argument between Deputy City Attorney Marsha Kerr and Living Green lawyer Jeffrey Lake, declined to issue the order without prejudice. That means city attorneys can request the order again at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 27. Meyer, who also heard the case in 2014 before it was sent to the 4th District Court of Appeals, said he simply needed more information than was available from either party before he would decide.
The February hearing is at the request of Lake, who said in court he plans to file a demurrer motion that that hearing, which is essentially a legal step whereby one party asks for dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that it is legally insufficient to be considered. A demurrer does not address the truthfulness of the disputed facts of the case at hand. A plain English explanation is that the City Attorney might not have had all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed.
Lake declined to comment on the demurrer or any other aspect of the case. He had asked Judge Meyer at the start of the hearing to ban media from the courtroom, a request Meyer denied immediately.
This is but the latest step in a process that began with what the appellate court called “judge-shopping” by attorneys for Living Green. No fewer than four judges were peremptorily challenged by Living Green attorneys, apparently in hopes of getting a judge sympathetic to their positions.
The case started with Judge Ronald Prager. He was challenged, and the case was then sent to Judge Meyer. He in turn was challenged by Living Green, and the case then went to Judge Judith Hayes. The challenge to her made Judge Richard Strauss the next jurist involved. The Living Green lawyers had filed a challenged to Strauss when the City Attorney, having had more than enough, appealed to the 4th District.
In a stinging decision, the district court ordered the case immediately returned to Judge Meyer, saying “we conclude the trial court clearly erred by granting Living Green … more than one peremptory challenge.” The court’s opinion stated that the state legislature, “recognizing the possibility the section [of the law] may be abused by parties seeking to delay trial or to obtain a favorable judge, [are] permitted only one challenge to each side.”
Meyer said he was willing to accept Lake’s word that Living Green is shut down and will remain so until the end of the legal processes, but that he is willing to entertain an immediate motion for a temporary restraining order if it’s discovered that Living Green is still operating in any way.
—Contact Doug Curlee at firstname.lastname@example.org.