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Oklahoma Vice: Unclear how criminal case against Norman councilman will proceed

First, Welcome to Oklahoma Vice, a new blog I'm writing for newsok.com. I'll cover alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling and prostitution here. You can send me tips too at bbailey@oklahoman.com.

Here's something I've been pondering. It's unclear how or whether the criminal drug case against Norman City Councilman Stephen Tyler Holman will now proceed.

Court records show the prosecution missed a deadline on Feb. 3 to file a response brief in Holman's case. 

I recently wrote an update about Holman facing drug charges for managing the now-closed Friendly Market, a Norman shop that sold glass pipes. Two police raids on the store found no drugs, but lots of glassware that law enforcement said qualifies as drug paraphernalia.

On Feb. 3, the jury found Cody Franklin, a former Friendly Market clerk, not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia for selling a glass pipe to an undercover Norman police officer.

In October, 2016, the misdemeanor case against Friendly Market clerk James Maxwell Walters, accused of possessing drug paraphernalia, ended in a hung jury. 

While Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn initially said Walters would be retried in January, nothing has moved forward in the case.  

The prosecution withdrew all evidence presented at Walter's trial the day after the jury failed to return a unanimous verdict in the case, including a bong and a baseball hat with images of marijuana leaves printed on the bill. 

The Cleveland County District Attorney's office declined to speak with me about the Friendly Market cases, because criminal charges are still pending.

Holman has asked a Cleveland County District Court judge to dismiss the criminal case against him. The councilman and his attorney Brecken Wagner maintain the many pipes police seized from The Friendly Market were not drug paraphernalia, but can be used to smoke a variety of legal substances.  

"Cleveland County has had two whacks at this and they've been unsuccessful twice," Wagner told me. 

If Holman's case does proceed to trial in May, he is prepared to call a number of witnesses in his defense, including  Howie Brounstein, director of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies in Eugene, Ore., according to court documents. Brounstein is an expert in "different types of herbs, including smoking herbs," records state.

Here's a picture of Howie, on the left. 

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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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