Pastor Michael Salman -- the ex-gang member and convicted felon who's currently serving a 60-day jail sentence after being found guilty of 67 misdemeanors -- is running out of ways to be denied by the court system.
Salman's attorneys from the Rutherford Institute filed a petition last week calling for Salman's release from Tent City, and the Arizona Supreme Court says that's not happening.
The pastor is in jail because he repeatedly told the City of Phoenix that he wasn't building a church in his backyard, then going right ahead and building a church that was found responsible for 96 civil code violations, while continuing to flout the rules in the process.
After losing in several appeals of his case, Salman's lawyers were trying to get him out of his jail sentence, which could be lengthened, since the convict couldn't follow the terms of his probation.
"A writ of habeas corpus from this Court is Petitioner's last hope for judicial intervention with the sentence of imprisonment he is serving solely because he refused to stop worshiping God with friends and family on his own property," his lawyers wrote.
Salman's done time before, when he served nearly six years in prison for a drive-by shooting. He didn't even have to serve extra time for being caught with LSD while in the slammer, or the time he was booked into jail for impersonating a police officer.
Now, Salman's getting free legal help from the Rutherford Institute -- a civil-liberties organization -- and the group is posting updates on what's going on with Salman.
The Rutherford Institute is also dealing with Salman's probation-violation issue, which came about after Salman continued to hold church services at his place, and never paid thousands of dollars in fines.
There's been quite a disinformation campaign in recent weeks -- since Salmon started serving his jail sentence -- and people still seem to be confused about Salman's case, since the pastor has adamantly maintained his story of religious persecution.
Salman told the city in 2007 that he was building a garage in his backyard. He did not build a garage in his backyard.
"Mr. Salman had regular gatherings of up to 80 people," the city says. "He held services twice a week and collected a tithe at the services. The building that he held services in had a dais and chairs were aligned in a pew formation. He held himself out as a being a church through the media (Harvest Christian Church) and claimed a church status for tax exemption purposes on his property."
Then Salman got a permit to have a "game room" in his backyard -- one that said "[a]ny other occupancy or use (business, commercial, assembly, church, etc.) is expressly prohibited."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Salman purchased a grand total of zero Foosball and air hockey tables, of course, because it was still a church.
As for Salman's probation violation, whether he has to serve extra time -- and if so, how much time -- has yet to be decided.
Salman's lawyers also plan on appealing Salman's case in federal court, which has been attempted unsuccessfully multiple times in the past, as has every other one of Salman's challenges in the history of this case.