With prejudice, Pima County Justice Court has dismissed charges of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct against Stephen J. Blomquist.
Blomquist was arrested Nov. 13 on the two misdemeanor charges and taken to Pima County Jail after he walked the route of an easement abandoned by the Town of Marana earlier in the year, then mounted the steps to the patio of McClintock's restaurant where he sat down at a table and was served a beer.
Blomquist contends that McClintock's is built partially on the abandoned public easement, and that Marana had no rights to abandon it in the first place.
The case was transferred in January from Marana Municipal Court to Pima County Justice Court. At the time, Jane Fairall, Marana's deputy town attorney, said the transfer request was made because Blomquist "is a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit filed against the town of Marana, which is related to the above-captioned criminal case. Therefore, a potential conflict of interest exists which prevents this case from being handled in the Marana Municipal Court."
Attorney Stephen M. Weeks of Weeks & Laird, represented Blomquist.
This is the second trespassing case against Blomquist to be dismissed with prejudice, which means the charges cannot be refiled.
In the earlier case, Marana had transferred criminal trespass charges against Blomquist, his wife Sharyl Cummings and Theresa Chamberlain to Oro Valley Magistrate Court. Those cases were dismissed with prejudice by Judge George A. Dunscomb, who handwrote onto his order that the dismissal was granted "Pursuant to Rule 16.6D as the interests of justice requires it because the charges were an improper use of criminal process."
The potential for conflict of interest referred to by Fairall stems from a federal civil rights lawsuit Blomquist and Cummings recently filed against the Town of Marana, its town attorney, the police chief, seven police officers and others. The couple is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages, alleging a violation of Blomquist's civil rights stemming from his Nov. 13 arrest.
According to Weeks, Blomquist was greeted cordially by McClintock's staff that day and served a beer, which was later taken away from him after telephone calls were made to unknown parties and to 9-1-1. Shortly thereafter, police officers arrived, one of whom spoke with McClintock's staff and later arrested Blomquist, handcuffed him and sent him to jail.
"We have the entire thing on audiotape and a good part of it on videotape, and he (Blomquist) is doing nothing but being courteous," Weeks said.
Blomquist had been arrested, but not incarcerated, on three previous occasions for trespassing on the abandoned easement. Blomquist and Cummings were first cited for criminal trespass May 27 when they used the abandoned easement, and again on May 29. Their third arrest, along with Tracy Chamberlain, came on June 1.
Besides the federal civil rights lawsuit, Blomquist, Cummings, Chamberlain and Timothy Blowers are plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit pending against the Town of Marana that seeks a declaratory judgment "determining the easement is still a valid public easement for ingress and egress by members of the public," as well as for a permanent injunction prohibiting the town from citing anyone using the easement.
Those four individuals also are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Saguaro Ranch owner Stephen Phinny, who they say began blocking access to the easement in early 2008.
The easement, essentially a loop road, has been used since the 1960s by the property owners in the area to get into what is now Tortolita Mountain Park, according to the plaintiffs. Another access to the park is off Como Road on the east side of the Saguaro Ranch development.
The lawsuit against Phinny and Saguaro Ranch is now being heard in U.S. Bankruptcy Court because Phinny and the ranch each filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.