The City of Manassas Park is now subject to discovery motions in Ruttenberg v. Jones due to a reversal by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Virginia Lawyers Weekly has gone through the decision, and they conclude that the decision allows David Ruttenberg to move forward in his quest for justice in the in the Rack n’ Roll scandal in Manassas Park. Although justice has been long denied, it may not be denied forever.
In his complaint, Ruttenberg says that after a search that lasted one or two hours, the team discovered only one ABC violation: Ruttenberg kept two bottles of unchilled Mexican beer that should have been labeled as “samples.” A homeless man employed by Ruttenberg and working as a police informant, who allegedly had participated in on-site drug transactions orchestrated by local police, was the only person arrested.
The scale and scope of this police exercise is at issue in an unpublished case released yesterday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a 40-page per curiam opinion in Ruttenberg v. Jones, the appellate court reversed Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis’s dismissal of Ruttenberg’s claim challenging the reasonableness of the administrative search, saying “we simply do not know enough about the circumstances surrounding the search and its execution to determine whether the inspection was reasonably conducted” or whether the defendants were eligible for qualified immunity.
The forty page decision doesn’t give Ruttenberg everything he wanted, but it does allow this case to go forward and will subject the City of Manassas Park to discovery motions. That’s key here. Discovery will allow the courts to pull back the veil of secrecy that the city has pulled over not only this issue, but a host of others, and finally allow the shenanigans engaged in by the city to come to light. The city initiated a fifty-plus officer SWAT raid of Rack n’ Roll under the guise of an administrative ABC inspection in order to retrieve evidence planted by individuals working on behalf of the Joint Narcotics Task Force. Failing to retrieve that planted evidence, the JNTF went on a hunt in parts of Ruttenberg’s business that were not part of the licensed premises and recovered a whopping total two warm sample bottles of beer. With that overwhelming weight of evidence, the ABC board revoked Ruttenberg’s ABC license, essentially putting him out of business. The abuse of authority here is huge, and finally Ruttenberg is going to have a chance to pursue this case.
It should be awfully interesting to see what turns up when attorneys start poking around records in Manassas Park armed with a court order. I’m hearing names of some of the attorneys that might be part of the ongoing case, and they’re names you don’t have to be an attorney in order to recognize. Big names. When these attorneys start rooting through the evidence, the unlawful treatment of David Ruttenberg is going to be just the tip of the iceberg. This could open up one of the biggest cases of public corruption Virginia history, and might well land a whole lot of people in jail.
Mayor Frank Jones has suffered a huge setback here, and this dramatic reversal is going to be a great opportunity to clean up the huge corrupt mess that is the government of Manassas Park. That can’t come too soon. The residents of Manassas Park have suffered enough.
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