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Last Place on Earth owner files drug conviction appeal

Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson stands outside his business in August 2013, prior to his conviction. (Clint Austin /

Attorney Mark Nyvold filed a notice of appeal on Carlson’s behalf in U.S. District Court, asking the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to review Carlson’s conviction on 51 counts related to the sale of synthetic drugs, his 17½-year prison sentence and the forfeiture order allowing the seizure of approximately $6.5 million in cash and other assets.

Nyvold , a Fridley, Minn., attorney who has argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and Minnesota Supreme Court and previously handled appeals for the state public defender’s office, was retained by Carlson to handle the appeal.

In a separate appeal filed last week, Carlson’s former girlfriend, Lava Haugen, is also challenging her conviction on four counts and her sentence to five years in federal prison.

The appeals are expected to be wide-ranging and focus on numerous issues that put defense attorneys at odds with Senior Judge David S. Doty.

Attorneys took issue with Doty’s pre-trial rulings, limitations he imposed on defense evidence, jury instructions, and the guidelines used to calculate the prison sentences. They have also taken aim at the constitutionality of federal drug laws that were central to the case.

“Judge Doty made so many errors in this trial, I can’t see an appellate court not reversing him on something,” Carlson’s attorney, Randall Tigue , told reporters after the sentencing.

Carlson and Haugen were indicted by a grand jury in December 2012 and found guilty at trial in October. They were sentenced on Aug. 14 by Doty.

The appeals ensure that the years-long public battle over the infamous head shop will continue for the foreseeable future. It can often take more than a year before the appellate court issues a ruling.

Nyvold said no timetable has yet been set for the case, but the circuit court will likely set a briefing schedule soon before considering whether to hear oral arguments.

“I would imagine given the issues involved here that they’d probably grant (oral arguments), but I don’t want to guarantee anything,” Nyvold said.