Judge wants to see synthetic drug test results from Duluth head shop raidA State District Court judge has ruled that the city of Duluth must provide him the results of all the scientific testing of items seized by Duluth police from the Last Place on Earth during the execution of a search warrant there in September.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
A State District Court judge has ruled that the city of Duluth must provide him the results of all the scientific testing of items seized by Duluth police from the Last Place on Earth during the execution of a search warrant there in September.
The attorney for Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson asked the court last month for the return of all of Carlson’s seized synthetic drugs, $83,510 in cash and 28 guns taken during the seizure. In the alternative, he requested a court order compelling the city to submit the results of testing of the synthetic drugs to the judge for in-camera (private) inspection.
Attorney Randall Tigue, who represents Last Place on Earth and its owner Jim Carlson, argued that he should have access to the test results because they are relevant to the issue of whether the city of Duluth is following an unconstitutional policy or practice in retaining the seized items.
Assistant City Attorney Nathan LaCoursiere argued that test results have no bearing on the legal issue in the case and revealing them would hinder an ongoing investigation.
Judge Shaun Floerke ruled that the city provide the test results and other documents to him within 30 days for review because they “may provide information relevant to determining the remaining issues in this matter.”
“That’s obviously a great step forward,” Tigue said. “I’m reasonably confident that he will find through the testing that nothing here violated the law and they have no basis for continuing to hold the property.”
Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said he wasn’t surprised by the order. “The end result means that the court will be looking at the information but it does not mean that it will be ultimately disclosed to the Last Place on Earth or their attorney,” Johnson said.
The synthetic drugs seized are composed of a class of chemicals perceived as legally mimicking cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is attempting to ban or control the synthetic stimulants because some users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes.
The government executed other search warrants at the shop and on Carlson on July 25 resulting in $2.8 million being seized from Carlson’s bank accounts along with two of his vehicles, a 2012 Ford F-150 and a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Seized from the Superior Street shop were 16 boxes containing suspected synthetic marijuana with more than 20,000 individual packages being offered for sale and $3,000 in cash.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, Duluth police, the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and the IRS were involved in the most recent seizures.
To date, no criminal charges have been filed against Carlson.