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

UPDATE: Hartsell and Latimer Both Improving

Times-Herald staff writer Bradley Hartsell will not need to undergo any more surgery and Hannah Latimer is currently in surgery to repair so ... Read More


Update

2 Cowetans injured in S. Carolina wreck

Bradley Hartsell, a staff writer at The Newnan Times-Herald, and his girlfriend Hannah Latimer, both of Coweta County, were involved in a se ... Read More


First Surgeries on Hartsell and Latimer Successful

Both Bradley Hartsell’s and Hannah Latimer’s surgeries have reportedly gone well so far, according to Hartsell’s aunt and ... Read More


Georgia gas prices up 30 cents in a month

Gas prices in Georgia have skyrocketed in the past month, with the state average price climbing 30 cents. But the national average is up on ... Read More


'Term Life' wraps up in Grantville

Film crews working on the movie “Term Life” wrapped up shooting in downtown Grantville on Thursday. “We’ve given the ... Read More

MADD honors Newnan officer

A Newnan Police Department officer was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving this week to recognize multiple drunk driving arrests he mad ... Read More