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MATTHEW S.

PAPPAS
A T T O R N E Y
1719 E. BROADWAY
LONG BEACH, CA 90802

E-MAIL:
OFFICE@MATTPAPPASLAW.COM

(949) 382-1485
FACSIMILE: (949) 382-1512

August 30, 2015

VIA U.S. MAIL, E-MAIL AND FACSIMILE


Shasta County
Board of Supervisors
1450 Court St # 308B
Redding, CA 96001
Re: Medical Marijuana Outdoor Cultivation Ban
Dear Board of Supervisor members:
It has come to my attention that the Shasta County Sheriffs Department has
been engaged in regular raids of outdoor medical marijuana cultivation sites following
the passage of a county initiative banning the outdoor growing of marijuana.
In any area not related to medical cannabis, counties and cities in California seem
to generally understand the taking of a property right without compensation violates
basic constitutional principles. Here, this previously conforming use by hundreds of
cultivating patients that has been ongoing and allowed for many years has been deemed
non-conforming. When a city or county makes non-conforming a previously
conforming use of property, it must either pay compensation for the taking or provide
amortization, normally two to three years, for the property owner. Goat Hill Tavern v.
City of Costa Mesa (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1519. In this case, no such compensation has
been offered nor has there been an adequate amortization period based on the recent
passage of the code section in question. A similar issue to the one here has been
previously determined by a federal court in Santa Barbara Patients Collective Health
Cooperative v. City of Santa Barbara (2010) 911 F.Supp.2d 884.
In addition to the property right taking issue, the Sheriffs Department has been
engaged in these raids without warrants or with warrants that mislead the magistrates or
judges signing them in order to show there is a felony taking place on the respective
properties being raided. Indeed, the affiants swearing out these warrants are well-aware

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there is no probable cause to believe felonies are occurring. Moreover, the Sheriffs
reliance on a county ordinance that attempts to convey a right to enter onto property
and search as well as seize property without a warrant is improper -- a county ordinance
cannot override the state or federal constitutions.
Each of the deputies swearing under penalty of perjury that they have basis to
believe there is a felony afoot knowing there is not should be subject to perjury charges.
Those deputies, the Sheriff and you know the activities on the properties are not
felonious and you further know the Sheriff is enforcing a municipal code section that, at
maximum, carries with it, upon conviction, a small fine and results in misdemeanor
liability. Knowing this, the Sheriff has dispatched deputies in military gear carrying
assault weapons who enter onto property with guns drawn as if a serious felony is in
progress.
In terms of these excessive force raids, Robinson v. Solano County (9th Cir. 2002)
278 F.3d 1007 helps illustrate the principle that less serious crimes do not justify an
officers display and pointing of a weapon absent an immediate threat. In that case, the
police seized an apparently unarmed 64-year-old man, a retired police officer, at
gunpoint. The former officer lived in a farmhouse on five acres of land and owned
various livestock. He had apparently shot two dogs belonging to his neighbor after
observing them attacking and killing livestock on his property, which was surrounded by
a fence. He killed one dog and wounded the other and then went off his land with his
shotgun looking for the wounded dog. When police came to his home later, he went out
to talk with them while unarmed. He claimed he was calm but the officers reported he
was agitated. He complied with their orders to put his hands up while an officer pointed
his gun at him. Then an officer thrust his pointed gun within three or four feet of his
head. The ex-officer was then handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle for a few
minutes while officers talked to neighbors. The Ninth Circuit found that none of the
factors justifying the use of force were present. The crime being investigated was at
most a misdemeanor, and the suspect was apparently unarmed and approaching the
officers peacefully. The court held the police officers used excessive force in violation
of the Fourth Amendment by pointing the firearm at Robinson.
Even more concerning are the warrant affidavits sworn out by deputies where
they know there is no felony taking place on the property in question. The Fourth
Amendment is violated when a facially valid search warrant contains deliberate or
reckless omissions of facts that tend to mislead. Garcia v. County of Merced (9th Cir

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2011) 639 F.3d 1206, 1212. Just as the Fourth Amendment prohibits warrantless
searches generally, so too does it prohibit a search conducted pursuant to an ill-begotten
or otherwise invalid warrant. Bravo v. City of Santa Maria (9th Cir 2011) 665 F.3d
1076, 1083. Even when only a portion of a search warrant is invalid, the subject of the
search suffers a constitutional violation. Millender v. County of L.A. (9th Cir. 2010)
620 F.3d 1016, 1024 (en banc).
There is no basis for the continuing violation of these property owners rights.
The plants that have been destroyed by the County are subject not only to equitable
actions for replevin and compensation quantum valedum, but also for legal claims related
to the vested rights of property owners who have had their previously established
conforming use made non-conforming through legislative action. Likewise, the seizures
by the Sheriff without warrants or based on warrants that are misleading or that
recklessly omit facts have already and will continue to subject county taxpayers to
significant pecuniary liability. To date, these takings exceed $20,000,000.00. I have
further estimated damages for constitutional violations of property owners who have
lost or sold their property based on the passage of your ban ordinance without
compensation or amortization provisions to be as much or more.
Recently, Ive been at odds with the Santa Ana Police Department because of a
totally inappropriate raid of the Sky High Holistic medical cannabis collective in that
city. There, hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage was done by officers
for what was solely alleged violation of a local city ordinance that is the same in terms of
severity and purpose as one requiring a permit for a sign. While Ive filed cases against
the City of Santa Ana in that case for compensation, your Sheriff recently requested
military gear, including what looks to be a military tank, in addition to the assault
weapons and military style tools he is already using, to further support an effort to
enforce what is simply a municipal ordinance. There is no basis for the militarization of
local police officers. It is only because this issue involves cannabis that deputies feel
they are above the law and able to violate various provisions of the state and federal
constitutions, use military style weapons, gear and tanks and violate the rights of
citizens.
The illegal actions of the Sheriff need to stop immediately. If they do not, it will
be necessary for me to file an action in federal court to enjoin continuing and ongoing
substantial state and federal constitutional violations taking place in Shasta County.
Furthermore, this letter will serve as notice to you that I intend to file suit to seek

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damages for the taking and destruction of property. For every marijuana plant
destroyed, the lawsuit will seek compensation at market prices for three (3) pounds of
marijuana. Given the widespread destruction already done, witch-hunt like
prosecutions being pursued with no basis and ongoing 42 U.S.C. 1983 violations, the
damages county taxpayers will be responsible to pay are massive. Since you have not
offered or paid compensation after making a conforming use non-conforming under
your law, a minimum three (3) year amortization period is also necessary and must be
implemented immediately. Extended litigation will make compensating the people you
have harmed even more costly for taxpayers.
Should you have any questions or if you would like to discuss a resolution of this
matter, please contact me at (949) 382-1485. I will be available to meet with members of
the Board, citizens and public officials on September 15th and 16th. It is important the
constitutional violations end immediately and that we work toward a resolution that will
be less costly for taxpayers as well as fairly compensate those damaged by the Countys
illegal actions.
Very truly yours,

Matthew S. Pappas
MSP:jm
cc:
Sheriff, Shasta County
Sheriff, Tehama County
Sheriff, Butte County