The only 'precedent' is that if someone had expensive personal property intentionally destroyed by a rogue police officer when the state prefered it be returned, they might expect to be compensated, as seems to have rightly happened here.
What I did and the outcome is not the issue in my original question.
To reiterate, can my friends use the ADA's and the judges decision to get their drug paraphernalia returned, and can others use those decisions as a precedent?
The general rule is that precedents are only binding on lower courts. A district court is not bound by a decision by another (or even the same) district court. I haven't looked far into the New Mexico court system, but it looks like a District Court is bound by a decision by an Appeals Court, and an Appeals Court is bound by a decision by the Supreme Court of New Mexico. The Supreme Court of New Mexico is bound by decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Your friends can cite your case as persuasive authority, but not mandatory authority. The judge is not obligated to follow that decision.
What is the name of your state? New Mexico.
So can this be used as a precedent to get my friends drug paraphernalia returned as they were not charged and now want to use it to smoke tobacco, and is it now even classed as drug paraphernalia?
No. The District Court’s opinion is no precedent because it does not bind any other court to rule the same way this judge did. Moreover, this decision focused on your acts in disposing of the property; it was not a case about the owner of seized property seeking the return of that property. Thus the factual context between the two is quite different.
That being said, they could point to that decision to the extent that they can use it to support the argument they make in their case. It would only have value to extent that the judge hearing the matter is persuaded by it. It certainly won't compel the court to rule in their favor.