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Norman’s Friendly Market wins return of property in OK Supreme Court ruling

Penny Ridenour / Red Dirt Report
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the return of property, like the glass pipes pictured, to Friendly Market after a lengthy court battle.
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NORMAN, Okla.- Fifteen thousand dollars worth of inventory seized during two 2015 raids of a Norman business, Friendly Market,  will be returned, after Monday’s ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The business was forced to close after the raids, and the owner and employees were forced to defend themselves against the depredations of Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn, who brought charges against two employees, the manager and owner.

A mistrial was declared in the October trial of Friendly Market employee James Walters, who was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Another employee, Cody Franklin, was acquitted of possession of drug paraphernalia in February.  On May 8th, a jury found owner Robert Cox and manager and city councilman Steven Holman not guilty on all counts.  Shortly after, Mashburn said he will not pursue the case any further.

Cleveland County Judge Steve Stice later ordered that all items seized during the 2015 raids be returned.  Mashburn asked the Supreme Court to order Stice to rule as to whether the items are paraphernalia, culminating in Monday’s ruling, for the ostensible reason of not making the Norman PD complicit in criminal behavior by putting paraphernalia back on the shelves.

Despite being on the receiving end of a defeat at the tail-end of what many consider a lengthy, costly, and small-minded campaign of intimidation, DA Mashburn believed the prosecution of the case was “worth it”, and said the case only cost taxpayers $114.24.  Ryan Keisel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, who referred to the prosecution of the Friendly Market as a “petty and unproductive crusade”, countered that Mashburn’s estimate of the cost does not include the man-hours spent on the case that could’ve been put to use in other criminal cases.  A one-week trial like Cox and Holman’s trial in May costs Cleveland County between $5,000 and $7,500.

The Supreme Court ruling will most likely affect other cases involving inventory considered “paraphernalia” around the state.

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Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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