Arlington Puts Hippie Garden on Trial for Tall Grass, Shows Jurors a Picture of Poop

quinneakergoe.jpg
Mark Graham
GoE's Quinn Eaker. He was kicked out of the courtroom for using his cell phone.
It turns out that Arlington, of all places, is home to a sustainable garden/hippie residence called the Garden of Eden. Naturally, Arlington does not approve.

Suspecting that the hippies were growing weed, officials first sent a manned aircraft over the Garden of Eden last year. Undercover officers paid a visit in person. It all hit the fan in August, when a SWAT team stormed the place looking for drugs.

The SWAT team didn't find a single bud. So instead, a bunch of city code enforcement officers showed up later that day. They cited the residents for having tall grass and storing inside furniture outside, among other violations. Code enforcement also mowed the lawn.

The failed drug raid and subsequent lawn-mowing made international news. Arlington's finest became a symbol of what happens when small-town cops try to fight the drug war and lose. (Here's our cover story about it ).

See also: The Hippies vs. Code Enforcement

Arlington is pressing forward with the case. The city put property owner Shellie Smith on trial this Thursday for all those code violations she received back in August.

But the city didn't want to bring up that whole failed SWAT thing in front of the jurors. Probably a good idea.

GoE's Smith, representing herself, had wanted to introduce the SWAT raid as evidence. "I would like to prove that the citations were written in dishonor," she asked the judge outside the presence of the jury.

City Attorney Steven Meyer argued that it was a non-issue. What police did that day "had no relevance, no bearing on the defendant's [code] abatement," he said. Judge Stewart Milner sided with the city.

With no exciting SWAT raids or drug allegations to discuss, the city attorney instead showed a group of bored-looking jurors pictures of tall grass, tarp and other code violations for two hours.

"The defendant needs to be reminded that in the city of Arlington, if you have code violations, every property owner needs to abate them," he said.

Code compliance officer Curtis Jones was a star witness for the city.

"Back over here is where you can see some high grass and weeds," Jones testified.

Things got more exciting after lunch, when Meyer showed jurors a close-up, grainy image of a compost toilet seat. He asked Jones to describe it. "Basically a toilet seat, that was outside," Jones said.

"Did you see what was in it?"

Smith objected to the line of questioning.

Meyer stayed fixated on the toilet. He tried rephrasing the question. "If you had to guess, what would you think is in there?"

Smith objected again.

"Generally, if you see a toilet, what would you think was in there?"

"Probably fecal matter," Jones testified.

Next: a random close-up of a piece of poop sitting in the grass.

"This is some fecal matter," Jones explained.

The proceedings were philosophical at times. Meyer asked Jones to state what rubbish, trash or junk is, as defined under the the city ordinance. "Stuff that a normal person wouldn't maintain on their property," Jones responded. Better watch out, all you Arlington-based weirdos.

An image of a sunflower drew a particularly cold response. "Isn't a sunflower usually considered a weed?," the city attorney asked Jones, apparently trying to show that the sunflower was violating the city's weed ordinance (the plant type of weed, not the drug).

In her cross-examination, Smith attempted to convince jurors that sunflowers are more than weeds.

"Where do you think sunflower oil comes from?," she asked Jones.

"I'm not sure."

At the end of the day, the jury sided with the city, under orders that they couldn't rule on whether or not the nuisance ordinance is fair, only if Smith violated it. Smith would have been on the hook for about four grand in fines, but Judge Milner reduced the amount to $2,432.

"We completely support the judge's ruling," says city spokesperson Sana Syed.

Smith is planning to appeal.


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19 comments
doctorinarlington
doctorinarlington

What a loser. He didn't graduate college--we all can assume that one. 

lecterman
lecterman

The picture looks like he wants to say:


"Verily, verily I sayeth unto thee, join me in our poop shack"

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Aren't these people good christians?


Can't they all see that this moment is two millenia in the making?


Jeezus is returned.

I saw his picture here for the story.

ruddski
ruddski

I once got a nasty letter from Arlington code threatening to mow my lawn for $300 because of "overgrown weeds". It was Spring, about 6 weeks before anyone's yard was mow-worthy, just like the 15 years previous.

Looked around, and in the corner was a dandelion-like thing about 12 inches high. Holy anal retentive, batman. I dutifully removed the offending plant.

I have another code story, involving going to court THREE times over a house that WAS NOT MY HOUSE. Even the judge was perplexed.

Kicker? Was paying a speeding fine, was informed that there was a bench warrant for failure to appear on a code violation. They wanted me there a fourth time for a house that WAS NOT MY GODDAMN HOUSE. I told the clerk where I lived, told her to send the cops to arrest me, visualizing a lucrative false-arrest lawsuit, but they never showed.

I was so glad to leave that idiot town to the Nuevos residentes.

barrbo
barrbo

There it is  "Alice's Restaurant" in four part harmony.  Just another case of "blind justice.  Bet they had a 100 shinny 8x10 photos of every thing in the yard.  For ye younger on you should listen to Arlo Gutheriy song!

breakthestate
breakthestate

If you were on that Jury and/or are the judge: I hope you get cancer.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

These cops, persecuter, and judge need to take a cue from another Arlington hero first responder, and eat a gun.

nostall160
nostall160

This case is a pretty damn good argument for jury nullification...

pnd2131
pnd2131

And how much of the taxpayers money did the city of Arlington waste on the failed raid and trial? I'm sure it was more than $2432 when you add in the helicopter sent over to investigate. What a bunch of fucking nonsense.

SarcasmoJones
SarcasmoJones

I guess the city feels that she is obligated to pay for the expensive failed drug raid.

ruddski
ruddski

But let's keep in mind that this community-style garden represents oppression and servitude to many immigrants.

chances are, these hippies never considered asking neighbors if the garden would lead to emotional trauma.

doctorinarlington
doctorinarlington

@breakthestate chances are your body will get cancer. Considering we are all predisposed to it. Hoping something that bad on someone; whether a joke or not, shows your weakened brain and lack of empathy towards anyone who doesn't see from your eyes. Grow up. 

dingo
dingo

@breakthestate  

I hope your neighbors build a pallet fence and traipse around their backyard in a Jesus robe as they contemplate borrowing your lawn mower while inspecting their sustainable rat breeding grounds.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@breakthestate  why bc they were forced to rule correctly that there was code violations?  The jury had nothing to do with the SWAT shit

unclescrappy
unclescrappy

@ozonelarryb  Kinda interesting fact here. The cops, persecuter and judge are ALL employees of the city. Judge is PAID by the same people that employ the prosecutor who is going after these people and the cops who investigated. Sounds like a FIXED CASE of Injustice every way you look at it.


d-may
d-may

@pnd2131  Tens of Thousands of dollars. 


At some point, it's more about pride than anything else. 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Thank you for that insight. I never had any idea of that. Judges aren't doin it for free? Just a coincidence then, that I lumped them a into my same basket?

pnd2131
pnd2131

No, it was a botched drug raid So the city spent thousands and thousands of the taxpayers money in order to justify their moronic actions. That makes a lot of sense. PS-when you have to resort to calling people names you have lost the argument.

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