Hearing Today on New Injunction

December 13, 2012

Today the MTCIA had its day in court to determine if District Court Judge Reynolds will set up a new injunction under the standard required by the Supreme Court.

The judge is taking the matter under advisement and has extended the Temporary Restraining Order until he issues his ruling. No matter which way he decides, this will not be an easy decision for him to make.

Our attorney, Jim Goetz had a big challenge: prove that the we need an injunction to block a law over which the Montana Supreme Court says we have very few rights. Normally this is a cake-walk for the state (the “rational basis” test is usually a very easy mark for the government to hit). Where Jim Goetz and his partner Devlin Geddis really shone was in keeping focused on how the state failed to reach that standard here. These are difficult and technical arguments, and the hearing went off the track several times. Our attorney did a great job of bringing it back to the point. (The specific problem is that it was easy to lose sight of the standard used to issue injunctions and start talking about the case itself. The hearing was about the case as much as it was about the injunction, and periodically Goetz would have to get it back on track.)

Our attorney presented the testimony of three patients, Lori, Melva and Patricia, and two providers, Mort and Jessie. The point was to show that physical conditions were serious, marijuana truly helped, pharmaceuticals did not do the same thing, and losing a caregiver put them in an impossible position. With respect to the providers, it was about how difficult and costly it was to grow and provide marijuana to patients. Everyone did a great job and the personal testimony was wrenching to hear.

I want to personally thank each of the witnesses for sharing their stories. Their willingness to talk about their stories was the cornerstone of our argument and they are heroes in our cause.

The most common questions I got today after the hearing were 1) was the TRO extended? Yes, until the judge rules, and 2) When will the judge rule? We do not know. Could be days or weeks.

For the complete play by play, visit the MTCIA Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mtcia where I blogged the hearing. This mtcia.org site is probably a good place to leave questions about the hearing, below in the comments section. I will do my best to respond quickly over the next few days.

Goetz did a great job and we should all be proud of the work he did for us today.  Where the state expected an easy day, we have a great shot at beating the odds and getting an injunction under the rational basis test.  Fingers crossed everyone!

Quite a few of you have made the effort to help us get our bill paid down, and we are truly grateful.  Thank you for making this lawsuit possible and keeping the program alive.  We still have a ways to go, and we will post the updated balance as soon as possible.