Supreme Court to hear case against Senoia ordinance

by Sarah Fay Campbell

A Senoia resident and the Senoia city government will face off before the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The case of Rehman V. Belisle, mayor et al is set for oral arguments as the last case of the afternoon session.

Don Rehman, a frequent commenter at city council meetings and current candidate for mayor, sued the city over the wording of an ordinance regarding the misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Misdemeanor possession would typically be heard in a state court - adding the local ordinance allows it to be heard in city court and allows the city to receive fines and fees.

But the wording of the ordinance is problematic and confusing - and possibly sexist, according to Rehman.

It states: 'It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his possession, less than an ounce of marijuana.'

Rehman asked the council to change the wording of the ordinance so it wouldn't appear to require all males to carry at least one ounce of marijuana while in the city, but the council did not take any action to change the ordinance.

He sued in Coweta Superior Court, asking to have the ordinance declared 'ill conceived, confusing, detrimental and unconstitutional.'

Rehman is acting as his own attorney.

Coweta Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon dismissed the case on May 23. The local judge expressed disinterest in the suit, calling it 'the most ridiculous thing I have ever had in this court, ever.'

'You have wasted this court's time. You have wasted all these people's time,' Blackmon said at the May 23 hearing. 'I do not know what possessed you to come into this court with something this ridiculous.'

Rehman appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court and his case was accepted.

On Sept. 5, Blackmon granted Senoia's request that Rehman be required to pay the city's legal fees, totaling $7,035.59. However, if the Supreme Court finds in Rehman's favor, he will not have to pay the fees.

When asked in September why the city did not change the wording of the ordinance to make it more clear, City Attorney Drew Whalen replied that 'the mayor and council is the city's legislative body and have very strong legislative discretion. If they prefer not to take action on an ordinance, it's their prerogative.'



More Local

Ceremony held for new safety complex

Key leaders in Georgia and Newnan gathered at Newnan’s new public safety complex to commemorate its opening with a ribbon-cutting cere ... Read More


Package turns out to be harmless

Unity Elementary evacuated Thursday

Unity Elementary School in Luthersville was evacuated Thursday after “a suspicious package” was observed on the school grounds. ... Read More


Construction continues on Lower Fayetteville

The construction on Lower Fayetteville Road is bringing more lane closures because of problems with the soil on the south side of the projec ... Read More


Coweta Commission

Public hearing on Bridgeport Tuesday

The rezoning public hearing for the Bridgeport industrial development on U.S. 29 between Newnan and Moreland will be held Tuesday before the ... Read More


Benghazi

CIA security operator in Newnan for book tour

This week, Cowetans got the opportunity to discuss the 2012 Benghazi attack with a true expert on the subject, one of the private security c ... Read More

‘First Love’ getaway contest

Jackon’s high school ride part of museum exhibit

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s special exhibition, Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin’ It Country, has been extended ... Read More