Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 29, 2010

Federal Dist. Court in Michigan Holds Plaintiff Must Exhaust Local Administrative Review Despite Belief that Hearing Officer Was Selected by City Attorney

Plaintiff Hamoudi Sabri sought injunctive relief from the City of Minneapolis’s application of an ordinance regarding rental hall licenses on the ground that such restriction interferes with the First and Fourteenth Amendment right to assemble. Another of Sabri’s properties had displayed a rental hall sign without the applicable permit and was cited after hosting a memorial service held by the Women of Middle East for Peace for a fee, which does not fall within the bona fide religious activity exception to the license requirement. Sabri, after receiving the citation, appealed at an administrative hearing that upheld the citation. Sabri claimed the tribunal was unconstitutional “because the hearing officer was ‘selected by the Minneapolis City Attorney and compensated exclusively by the City of Minneapolis.’” Based upon Sabri’s dissatisfaction with the administrative tribunal, he chose judicial review over appealing the administrative ruling. 

The Court held that Sabri’s claims were barred as he had not exhausted local administrative remedies and important state interests were present. Sabri’s contention of the administrative hearing’s inadequacies is not severe enough to be considered as an exception to the Younger Abstention Doctrine or bad faith or harassment. 

3005 Cedar LLC v. City of Minneapolis, 2010 WL 455307 (D. Minn. 2/3/ 2010).

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