Judge rules state may not destroy seized merchandise from ‘Friendly Market’

During a special hearing Wednesday in Norman, a special judge made a ruling against the State in their attempt to retain the property seized in the 2015 raids on Friendly Market. We are all very grateful that the jurisprudence system has delivered justice in this case. The DA’s office has 10 days to file an appeal. Hopefully, this will be the last bit of resolution on this brutal 2-year fiasco.

Here are a few snippets from the news outlets coverage of the hearing:

From Jacob McGuire of The Norman Transcript — https://goo.gl/gRnFE1

Cleveland County Special Judge Steve Stice ruled today that the items Norman police seized from the Friendly Market in 2015, be returned.

“I don’t have any evidence provided by the objecting party (the state of Oklahoma) that this property shouldn’t be returned, only assertions,” Stice said. “I’m ordering the items be returned to the petitioner (Friendly Market).”

However, even with the ruling, store owner Robert Cox still won’t be able to get the items back because Stice allowed the state 10 days to consider filing an appeal. Additionally, Stice ordered that the city of Norman retain the items pending the decision.

Because the tenth day falls on a Saturday, the state will have until the following Monday, July 17.

From Lorne Fultonberg of KFOR — http://via.kfor.com/NGuBn

NORMAN, Okla. – A judge handed a tobacco shop a victory Wednesday morning, ruling the state may not destroy merchandise seized in the past.

In 2015, Norman police raided ‘The Friendly Market,’ claiming the glass pipes that were sold in the store were considered drug paraphernalia.

In addition to seizing merchandise, store owners said officers seized thousands of dollars from the business.

“Any material pipes that were in this store were paraphernalia regardless of the intent of the user, which is just a complete misreading of the statute,” defense attorney Blake Lynch told NewsChannel 4 in 2016.

From  Jane Glenn Cannon of The Oklahoman — https://goo.gl/hxaGkZ

“This subject matter has been lingering and emotionally charged,” the judge said. “Hopefully, this can be an end to the Friendly Market matter.”

Assistant City Attorney Rick Knighton said the city will abide by the court’s ruling, and indicated there are no plans on the city’s part to appeal.

Assistant District Attorney Heather Darby said she would have to confer with District Attorney Greg Mashburn before making a decision about an appeal. She asked for a 10-day stay on returning the property to allow time for a decision to be made.

Darby argued in Wednesday’s hearing that the items were drug paraphernalia and should not be returned because they could be used for illegal purposes.

Thank you to all of the fine journalists who covered our story over the years.

We are looking forward to recovering our property and re-opening the Friendly Market!

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