California: Costa Mesa Police Want To Make It A Federal Case
By Derrick Stanley
Attorneys representing the Costa Mesa Police Department filed a motion Monday to have a pending lawsuit moved from state to federal court. The lawsuit comes from claims that the Costa Mesa P.D. overstepped the lawful authority of their inspection warrant during a January raid of the now-closed Costa Mesa Collective marijuana dispensary.
In surveillance footage of the raid, CMPD officers can be seen busting through the clinic’s doors with their guns drawn, yelling at patients and caregivers alike to get on the ground. After interrogating the patients and arresting the staff, the officers proceeded to remove surveillance equipment and various elements of the storefront, including items secured in safes.
Matthew Pappas, the Long Beach attorney representing Costa Mesa Collective, says osta Mesa Police crossed the line.
“These guys were doing this to shut down a business without due process because they don’t like it,” said Pappas. “They became judge, jury and executioner.”
Five employees were arrested during the raid, and detained on suspicion of possession with intent to distribute marijuana — a felony offense in California. Pappas said the five individuals spent four days in lockup before being released without charges.
Pappas filed a lawsuit last month against the city police department on behalf of Costa Mesa Collective. They are seeking unspecified damages from the city’s police department in addition to the recovery of marijuana products, cash, sensitive patient records, and any other improperly seized assets. The suit alleges that CMPD officers violated constitutional rights by entering with force and taking property without a proper warrant.
Dennis M. Cota and Daniel S. Roberts, the lawyers representing the CMPD, filed a motion with the U.S. District Court to move the case from California to a federally-governed court.
Pappas says the move is strategic, and he’ll respond by filing a motion to keep the case in-state.
“Costa Mesa’s effort to move the case to federal court is meant to prevent any recovery for their illegal actions because marijuana is prohibited under federal law,” Pappas explained. “However, the lawsuit filed is based on state law in an area that should be decided by state courts.”