Judge denies motions to dismiss charges against Interchange owner

Published 11:35 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

A district court judge has denied motions from the owner of The Interchange Wine & Coffee Bistro to dismiss her criminal counts for allegedly opening up her restaurant in violation of state emergency executive orders to limit the spread of COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic.

Lisa Hanson faces nine criminal misdemeanor charges tied to the opening of the restaurant last December and January. The trial is slated to begin on Tuesday.

In a 33-page order issued by Judge Joseph Bueltel on Friday, the judge also addressed various pretrial motions made by Hanson in a hearing last week.

Jurisdiction

Hanson has motioned to dismiss for lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction.

Bueltel in his order cited state statute that says a person may be convicted or sentenced under Minnesota law if that person commits an offense within the state.

He referenced another state statute that said that orders and rules made by the governor under authority of a peacetime emergency — in this case the COVID-19 pandemic — “when approved by the Executive Council and filed in the Office of the Secretary of State, have, during a national security emergency, peacetime emergency, or energy supply emergency, the full force and effect of law.”

He said violating the terms of the order constitute a misdemeanor offense.

He said district courts “are general jurisdiction courts, holding original jurisdiction in all civil actions and all cases of crime committed or triable within their respective districts.”

He also noted that state law requires a city attorney of a city with a population of greater than 600 prosecute misdemeanor violations.

Service of criminal complaints in the case

Hanson had argued that the summons and complaint were not properly served against her in the case.

Bueltel said Hanson was personally served with a copy of the summons and complaint for her first case at a hearing on Jan. 28 and was served a copy of the summons and complaint for her second case on Feb. 3 by an Albert Lea police sergeant.

Oaths of office

Hanson had also questioned the oaths of office for both Bueltel and City Attorney Kelly Martinez.

Bueltel said there’s no authority for the notion that judges and attorneys must file oaths and licenses in each district court case they are involved with.

He said the city attorney serves as an employee of the city, or an appointed officer, under the general supervision of the city manager.

Governor’s authority to issue executive orders

He said the prerequisites for governor’s orders to have the effect of enacted laws are the following: a declaration of a national security, peacetime or energy supply emergency; approval of the order by the Executive Council; and then filing that order with the Secretary of State’s office. These were all met with Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency order.

Bueltel said appellate case law addressing challenges to the governor’s emergency executive orders has also affirmed their legal effect.

Claim of First Amendment Constitutionally protected conduct

The judge said Hanson’s claim that she is charged for engaging in conduct protected by the First Amendment does not include specifics about what conduct she claims is protected. He said she also did not support her argument with facts or legal citation.

Video/audio coverage of trial

Bueltel also denied a request by ABC 6 News KAAL for video or audio coverage because both parties did not consent to doing so. In Minnesota, the request must be approved by both parties. In this case, the state was opposed.

A motion hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday.