Court Keeps Narconon Open, Awaits Evidence
By Michael McNutt
May 28, 1992
The Oklahoma Supreme Court will allow an unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment center to stay open while waiting on state officials to submit more information about why Narconon Chilocco New Life Center should be closed.
An order handed down Wednesday and signed by Chief Justice Marian Opala postpones a permanent injunction from taking effect, which would close the center.
The stay will remain in effect until the court decides an appeal contesting the permanent injunction issued earlier this month against the center.
State officials want the center closed because it never has been licensed and a license request was rejected.
Narconon Chilocco and the Tonkawa tribe went to the state Supreme Court seeking an emergency stay and a new trial on the issue of whether a permanent injunction should be issued to close the center.
Lawyers for the state health department have until June 4 to file a response to Narconon Chilocco's appeal, the order said.
The court's order was timely for Narconon Chilocco. A temporary stay that allowed the center to remain open expired Tuesday.
Gary Smith, Narconon Chilocco president, said he was relieved by the court's action.
"This is kind of a temporary stay allowing us to operate until the other side puts in their written brief and they can actually have a Supreme Court hearing on the whole thing," he said.
The center had 10 patients Wednesday, he said. Almost 40 others are being trained to work in other Narconon treatment centers.
Narconon Chilocco is pinning most of its case for a new trial on an announcement this month from the Tonkawa tribe that it is forming an agency to govern treatment programs on Indian land.
The tribal agency subsequently gave Narconon a 90-day conditional license.
The Tonkawa agency had not been formed when a district judge presided over a court hearing Feb. 27 in Kay County.
District Judge Neal Beekman earlier this month issued a permanent injunction ordering Narconon Chilocco to close.
Narconon Chilocco began accepting patients in February 1990.
After a series of legal delays, the state board of mental health and substance abuse services in December denied certification of Narconon Chilocco and ordered the facility closed.
Narconon Chilocco subsequently filed an appeal in Oklahoma County District Court seeking to overturn the state mental health board's decision.
A ruling on Narconon Chilocco's appeal in that court is pending.