Judge Labeled Use of Force in Medpot Raids “Strong-Arm Tactics”

8:30am | In June 2011, while Long Beach police were in the process of making forcible entries into medical-marijuana collectives in response to their operating without a permit, Judge Patrick T. Madden expressed concern over the propriety of the City’s tactics.

“The concern that I have is, as articulated by the defendants, the evidence seems to show that the City, through its police, have used what I refer to as strong-arm tactics to knock down the doors of the collective without a warrant and without exigent circumstances,” Madden said at a June 2 hearing (PDF)

The City was represented at the hearing by Deputy City Attorney Kendra Carney.

The hearing took place as part of the City’s “nuisance abatement” case against 562 Collective for its operating without a permit. Representing 562 Collective was Matt Pappas — the same attorney whose Pack case led to the finding that the City’s medpot ordinance is preempted by federal law. In the wake of a May 10 enforcement action against 562 Collective, Pappas requested a temporary restraining order against the City for such actions. 

Ultimately Madden found that the legal route the defendants should travel to obtain a protective order against the City was not by way of this case. “But that, I don’t think, is the full answer to what it is that’s, shall we say, going on,” he said.

At a June 11 hearing (PDF) Madden expressed his belief that since the City had pursued civil and not criminal action against 562 Collective, it ought to be bound by civil procedure: “As I see it, the City, by [proceeding against the collective not criminally but for operating without a permit], placed itself within the civil court framework, and it seems to me that the rules apply to all litigants, whether the litigant is a municipality or an agency of a municipality, such as the police, and there’s a requirement that the parties use civil discovery procedures to obtain their evidence.”

“As far as the circumstances of breaking down the door, there is a reason it was done,” Carney asserted. She did not, however, choose to disclose the reasons. I’m not sure that I can disclose that at this time without providing information that I’m not comfortable disclosing based on the safety of an individual in front of the current audience.”

Carney also stated that “the Defense has made allegations unsupported by evidence concerning the events that they allege occurred at the 562 Collective.” But Madden noted that regarding the collective’s “allegations […] that the City, through officers and employees of the police department engaged in conduct that was not part of formal civil discovery, [nor] based on a search warrant, [nor] based upon what I would refer to as exigent circumstances [… and] used a battering ram and broke down a door and seized documents in the collective” were “unrebutted. […] There’s not one fact in here that rebuts any of the allegations made by the defendants that it was a search not incident to a lawful search warrant or any search warrant or that any exigent circumstances existed.”

After asserting that the City “did supply information denying their allegations,” Carney finally agreed with Madden that the City had in fact not rebutted them.

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