SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego's attempt to shut down an illegal marijuana dispensary in Grantville was boosted Wednesday by an appellate court ruling that rejected the defendants' repeated requests to shift the case to different Superior Court judges.
The San Diego Police Department and code enforcement officers have worked with the City Attorney's Office to shutter around 40 pot shops operating illegally over the past six months. The city is required to get a court order to force dispensary operators to close.
According to court documents, the city initiated legal proceedings against the Living Green Cooperative, at 4417 Rainier Ave., its operators and landlord on Nov. 4, and a Nov. 19 hearing was scheduled before Judge Ronald Prager.
However, Living Green submitted a challenge against Prager, so the case was reassigned to Judge John Meyer. Each operator successively challenged a judge, preventing the case from being heard, so the city filed an appeal to the state Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Appellate Justices Gilbert Nares, Alex McDonald and John McIntyre agreed with the city's contention that challenges to judges are limited to one per side, not one per defendant.
"Attorneys for the illegal dispensaries continue to look for a judge who will ignore the law, but they just can't find one," said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. "And, now the appellate court has ordered they only get one challenge. Maybe these attorneys should simply advise their clients to follow the city's process for opening a legally zoned dispensary."
Earlier this year, the City Council established a procedure to open dispensaries legally, under certain zoning restrictions.
A few prospective operators have had conditional use permits approved by the city. One has been appealed to the Planning Commission, and a hearing is scheduled for next month. The window to file an appeal remains open for the others.
Meanwhile, the Living Green Cooperative is still operating.
The ruling by the appellate court reassigned the case to Judge Meyer. The City Attorney's office said its lawyers would try to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.
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