By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
A Phoenix law firm known for its political involvement and lawsuits will have to pay nearly $150,000 in legal fees over what a court concluded was unfounded litigation to try to stop what has become the largest medical marijuana cultivation facility in the state.
Without comment, the Arizona Supreme Court has upheld a ruling of the Court of Appeals, which found not only that the penalty was appropriate but also took a slap at the attorneys from Statecraft LLC, the firm that filed the lawsuit against the Town of Snowflake. In essence, that appellate ruling found the whole challenge to be not only without legal merit but frivolous.
Two of the Supreme Court justices, Clint Bolick and Andrew Gould, voted to grant review, and Vice Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Justice John Lopez did not participate in the matter, leaving the decision to the three remaining justices.
There was no immediate response from the law firm.
At the heart of the fight is the 2016 decision by the town to issue a special use permit to Copperstate Farms, a limited liability company, to grow marijuana in an existing greenhouse the firm had purchased from a company that previously had grown tomatoes and cucumbers.
Several residents represented by Statecraft filed suit, charging violations of open meeting laws, setback requirements and what they called “illegal contract zoning.”
Navajo County Judge Donna Grimsley eventually dismissed the case. More to the point in this case, she said Statecraft had to pay the town’s legal fees in fighting the case.