The plaintiff in a long-running case over a medical marijuana cultivation license asked a circuit judge today to disqualify the state attorney general’s office from representing the defendants in the case.
2600 Holdings, the plaintiff in a case over River Valley Relief’s cultivation permit, asked Circuit Judge Herbert Wright in a filing today to disqualify the office from representing the state agencies that are defendants in the case.
The office has a conflict of interest related to the involvement of Doralee Chandler, 2600 Holdings’ attorney Abtin Mehdizadegan argued in the filing. Chandler is former director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control division and is now the deputy attorney general for state agencies.
Chandler’s involvement in the case is significant. She was deposed in the case for two days and, once Wright ruled last year that River Valley should not have received a permit, she led a hearing on the matter and revoked River Valley’s permit.
Today’s filing describes Chandler as an “important and necessary witness” and says that the Rules of Professional Conduct “prohibits a lawyer from acting as an advocate in a matter where the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness.”
Chandler has retained attorneys to represent her in the case, court filings show.
The attorney general’s office tried to withdraw from the case in October, but Wright denied the request. Mehdizadegan cited that filing in which the attorney general’s office said it had a conflict of interest but did not disclose the conflict.
The defendants in the case are the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control division and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.
In October, the attorney general’s office filed two responses to the plaintiff’s request for summary judgement: one response on behalf of the state Medical Marijuana Commission and one on behalf of the Department of Finance and Administration and the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control division.
Wright ruled last year that the state Medical Marijuana Commission erred when it awarded a cultivation permit to River Valley Relief. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the location of the facility in River Valley’s application was too close to a school, that the original business entity had been dissolved and that the owner no longer possessed the property in his original application.
In a related matter at tomorrow’s Medical Marijuana Commission meeting, the commission will consider whether to grant River Valley Relief’s annual permit renewal. Mehdizadegan has argued that granting the renewal would be a violation of the Supreme Court order to maintain the status quo as it considers the appeal to Wright’s ruling.