Law Office of Isaac J. Mass -- Greenfield, Massachusuetts
 
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_ A preliminary injunction is a type of equitable relief offered by the court.  It is meant to stop someone from taking some action while litigation is ongoing.  To get such an injunction the petitioner has a high burden.  They must show three things:

#1 They must show that they are success is likely on the merits of ongoing litigation

#2 They must show irreparable harm will result from denial of the injunction

#3 They must show the risk of irreparable harm to them outweighs any similar risk of harm to the other side.

With busy dockets, courts sometimes try push through the preliminary injunction stage and solve the whole case.  This is not fair to the parties who have not had all the time to fully develop their case.  Remember the first step is only that success is likely, not that it is a sure thing.

This is what happened in the Weston Marijuana Cookie Case.  A seventeen year old junior at Weston High School was suspended when two classmates who admitted to a marijuana cookie transaction on school property identified him as the source of the drugs.  When on the advice of his father and attorney the student declined to speak about his involvement with the cookie caper the student was expelled by the superintendent.  This happened despite no evidence of the student’s involvement presented at the hearing.

The father then sued for his son’s reinstatement and sought a preliminary injunction.  Instead of ruling on the injunction, the judge wanted to give the student a “second chance” despite his testing positive for marijuana after telling the judge that he had used drugs in five months.  The judge ordered the reinstatement of the student based on terms proposed by defense counsel after consultation but nor agreement with the superintendent.  The order held the matter under advisement for six months while the probation department and the judge monitored the student’s progress.  The superintendent had no chance to present their case and appealed.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Robert DOE vs. SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF WESTON, SJC-10981 (2011), found that the judge “fashioned his own remedy.”  As a result the order of the judge was overturned and sent back for consideration of the standard above.

To be sure this time both sides will argue about the merits of the case, and the irreparable harm to each side.


 

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