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

Coco's Cupboard

Partnership works to find service dogs for veterans

Dog trainers Suzanne Aaron and Tara Cotton saw many clients who had dogs they just couldn’t handle. They would help the owners find do ... Read More


250 students affected

Homelessness ‘vicious cycle that’s going to continue’

The economy has bounced back from the lows of a few years ago. The housing market is healthy, and the jobless rate has improved. But, for so ... Read More


Annual Sunrise on the Square Road Race a success

The annual Sunrise on the Square included ideal weather and a first-time winner who actually pushed his baby in a stroller. The race, hosted ... Read More


HealthSouth facility scheduled to open Dec. 2

Progress for HealthSouth’s new facility is on track for a Dec. 2 opening, which will add to the town’s growing collection of hea ... Read More


Subsidized medical center proposed for Senoia

Palmetto Health Council is applying for a grant to bring a subsidized medical clinic to Coweta, proposed for the Senoia area. The non-profit ... Read More

Economic Impact

Ports hit new record

The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 3 million 20-foot equivalent container units in fiscal year 2014 – and set a new record fo ... Read More