October 30, 2014

A Packed Courtroom Watches "Last Place on Earth" Nuisance Case Commence

By KBJR News 1

November 9, 2012 Updated Nov 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)
-- A St. Louis County Courtroom filled within minutes Friday morning with supporters of both the City of Duluth, and a downtown business locked in a legal battle.

Duluth attorneys have laid out their case as to why Last Place on Earth should lose their ability to sell synthetic drugs.

This civil hearing stems from a notice of nuisance issued by the city, demanding Carlson correct certain grievances concerning his store.

Carlson refused, citing his attorney's advice and now this issue is in civil court, and the outcome could stop the sale of synthetics in Duluth.

Members of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce and supporters of controversial downtown business owner Jim Carlson filled Judge Shaun Floerke's courtroom, hoping to make opposing statements.

Chamber members are fed up with the sale of synthetic drugs.

"This is a great frustration to the business community, and the way to do that is for people to show up, to learn more and to listen and make a show of support of having this concern addressed," said Chamber President David Ross, outside of the St. Louis County courthouse.

"The needs of the many have always trumped the desires of the few," said city attorney Nathan LaCouriere in court Friday.

City Attorneys argued the court needs to take action, citing 2,000 police calls to Last Place in 2012, a cost of 100,000 dollars to the taxpayer.

They said synthetic drugs create obvious health risk to the community, and the traffic from Last Place customers is disruptive, costing businesses money.

"This is no different than the traditional nuisance cases in which the smoke from a wood fire broiler is seeping through the community," said LaCouriere.

Carlson's attorney Randall Tigue brought up the point that using the nuisance statute to curb a public health risk could create a dangerous precedent.

"That the nuisance statute allows you to close down liquor stores, tobacco shops, fast food restaurants and any of a number of places that cause public health consequences, and that's simply not within the courts power within any definition," said Tigue.

Judge Floerke will not make a decision on this injunction until both attorneys provide more information about their cases.

That information is the chemical test results from the 2011 raid of Last Place and more specific definition of the substances the city wants banned to the court.

One person was removed from the courtroom for laughing during the hearing.

Zach Vavricka

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