'Last Place' Trial Commences

By KBJR News 1

'Last Place' Trial Commences

August 19, 2013 Updated Aug 19, 2013 at 2:22 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- A trial is underway to determine the future of downtown Duluth's controversial head shop, Last Place on Earth.

The shop has been shut down for a month after city attorneys filed a temporary retraining order for violating a city ordinance.

Duluth city attorneys Alison Lutterman and Nate LaCoursiere are bringing a comprehensive case to the table including multiple witnesses, more than 80 exhibits and two scheduled days of testimony.

After it's all done, St. Louis County Judge Shaun Floerke could shut down Last Place as a public nuisance--as either a statutory nuisance or a common law nuisance--or the shop could re-open.

The case stems from 'Last Place' owner Jim Carlson selling synthetic drugs without a license after a city ordinance went into effect, requiring a license to sell synthetic drugs.

It's been Carlson's attorney, Randall Tigue's opinion, that applying for a license would be self-incriminating, violating Carlson's 5th amendment rights.

He says Duluth Police Lieutenant, Steve Strasek, strengthened that argument in court Monday by testifying that, in his opinion, the synthetic drugs being sold at Last Place are illegal.

Tigue said that if Carlson applies for a license he would be admitting to participating in illegal activity.

"I think he handed us our case on a silver platter," said Tigue, outside the St. Louis County courthouse. "He clearly indicated that, in which we have said from the beginning, that his act of applying for a licenses would be an act of self-incrimination."

Friday in court, several law enforcement agents testified about a handful of controlled buys at Last Place on Earth. The testimony will continue Tuesday.

'Last Place' owner Carlson remains confident in his legal team but says if his shop is shut down, he would consider changing locations.

"They're not going to keep me out of business," said Carlson. "They could possibly keep me out of business in that location."

Zach Vavricka

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