Anchorage restaurant seeks contempt of city court after deferring judge’s verdict

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The municipality of Anchorage on Saturday asked for contempt of court after a local eater rejected a judge’s decision to stop the indoor food service.

The city’s motion asks the judge in a case of “extraordinary measures of contempt sanctions” against the diner of the restaurant, Criner, and its owners. The city’s motion also accuses the restaurant’s attorney, Blake Quackenbush, of “actively encouraging and participating in the ongoing violation” and argues that it must be approved by the court.

In its order on Friday, State Superior Court Judge Eric Eraseth wrote that if businesses like Criner were allowed to violate the city’s Emergency Order 15, the public would suffer “irreparable damage”, which last week included restaurants and Indoor food was blocked in breweries. The purpose of the city order is to limit the spread of coronaviruses.

On Saturday morning, Criner’s dinner was open, outside which was a queue of customers. The restaurant has been crowded all week with diners supporting their stand against the city’s order.

A written statement from Caroline stated, “We are incredibly disappointed that they continue to obey the law, when they already have better court attention and may have their day in court, so that the emergency order Not valid. ” Hall, city spokesperson.

“The notion that criners should be immune to emergency orders issued to protect health and safety in our community ignores the reality that most people in anchorage are patient: our children do not attend school in person Are taking Our defendants are not getting jury trials; Our grandparents in aided homes are stuck waiting for the rest of the people to embrace their grandchildren to make the community safe; The statement said that our epidemiologists and hospitals have warned that if the trends of July continue next month, we may be out of ICU beds next month. “In this new world, when community transmission of the virus is widespread, it is appropriate for our residents to ask leaders to take the necessary actions to preserve life and health in a community in which this dinner is temporarily pivoted to Takeout, Delivery, and Outside Food

Customers in Anchorage wait on Saturday, August 8, 2020, outside the Criner Dinner. Dinner, owned by Andy and Noran Criner, continues to serve customers after the Mayor-issued Emergency Order 15, which went into effect on Monday and bans indoor dining at restaurants and breweries, but takes them to takeout service And allows outdoor dining to continue. The command also closes all bars. (Lorraine Holmes / ADN)

The eater is represented by Blake Fulton Quackenbush family law attorney Quackenbusch.

“We’re a great client with a great business and we don’t have any comments yet,” said Katie Peyton, the firm’s administrator Saturday evening after the city’s filing

Andy Criner, who owns a dinner with Noran Criner, could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday evening following the city’s announcement.

During Friday’s court hearing, Quackenbush argued that the city also showed no evidence that business practices at Criner’s diner contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday, August 8, 2020 at Anchorage, a server and client inside the Criner Diner. The dinner, owned by Andy and Noran Criner, continues to serve customers after the Mayor-issued Emergency Order 15, which went into effect on Monday and bans indoor dining at restaurants and breweries, but takes them to takeout service And allows outdoor dining to continue. The command also closes all bars. (Lorraine Holmes / ADN)

Quackenbush argued that the emergency order violates the Alaska Constitution because it deprives crears of their right to work. He also said that the city is giving “unequal and unequal treatment” to crears and other restaurant owners. Other employers who run similar businesses where it is not possible to wear masks, such as the gym, have not been uniformly closed, he said.

City Attorney Kate Vogel said at a community briefing Friday afternoon that “if anyone wants to challenge the constitutionality of the law, they are certainly entitled to do so, but they are not entitled to comply while awaiting that judicial resolution” Are not. “

Earlier, Criner has taken issue with the idea that opening a restaurant poses a threat to public health.

“If I thought I was putting anyone in danger, I would not open up. I can’t believe I told the Daily News last week.

Prior to Saturday, Criner said he would lose half of the restaurant’s revenue by going to lay-outs only. He said that if you take it out it would be a slow, quiet death in the restaurant business. You will not make it eventually. “

In their contempt motion on Saturday, city lawyers said they do not want to jail the defendants. Instead, they want to ensure that the restaurant closes the indoor food service “to protect the health and safety of the residents of the langar”. According to the documents, by staying open, city defendants have to “deliberately spend” $ 600 per day. But this is insufficient, to prevent them from operating dine-in services, the proposal says.

Therefore, the municipality now wants a fine of $ 5,000 per day for violating the order, on top of other fines.

This motion suggests that Criner was aware of the judge’s decision, but continued the indoor service, based on an interview posted on Facebook on Saturday.

The city says Criner’s lawyer, Quackenbush, is “actively encouraging and participating in the ongoing violation.” The lawyer posted a video on a Facebook group on Saturday showing a crowded dinner with the caption “American Peacefully Historic! Opposing sit-in! breakfast is served.”

Quackenbush also commented on the post, according to the documents, “We have the right to work and support our families and communities. Please, if you are healthy, get out and go into businesses and encourage businesses to give you the courage to work. It is crazy to think that we are fighting for the right to work and support our families! “

The posts appeared to show in the Facebook group on Saturday evening, although Quackenbush was listed as a member.

According to court documents, a municipal attorney phoned Quackenbush after the hearing on Friday that Criner was continuing the dine-in service despite the order, and advised her client to follow the court order Say. Quackenbush said he had not seen the order, documents say, so the lawyer sent him a copy. She replied that she had asked her customers to follow the order, the document says.

However, the documents stated that based on the social media posting on Saturday, “Quackenbush is actively working to subdue the court order and the EO-15, despite her confession that it was her duty to Inform your customer not to violate the law. “

According to the documents, the city is seeking a monetary sanction against Quackenbush based on the discretion of the court.

By posting video from inside the diner and posting an endorsement of Criner “disobeying a court order,” Quackenbush “knowingly violated” court orders, emergency orders and Alaska business rules of conduct.

Additionally, he “positively encouraged others to behave illegally.”

His follow-up comment on the post suggests that Quackenbush was “knowingly assisting or harassing his client and others or attempting to violate a court order,” which the motion says could be approved is.

Asked about the court’s decision Friday at a briefing later in the day, Berkowitz said in a briefing Friday, it was a “heavy day”, and he took no pleasure in the decision, as Alaska faced problems. Must be able to resolve without resorting to litigation.

“I think the importance of being able to protect public health through these public health orders is so important that the law has to apply to everyone,” he said. “And if we want it to be as effective as possible, everybody needs to comply with it.”

The city’s epidemic policies are under increasing pressure. Anchorage health experts say epidemic risks are also increasing.

Berkowitz said that he wants to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases with a collective effort, to ban some efforts. The mayor said he was satisfied by most businesses complying with the order.

“I know that Outlayer is easy to follow, and that’s what happened,” he said. “And they have received an odd amount of publicity for what they are doing.”

The mayor said that indoor food is considered “high-risk behavior” according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that if the city and country had better contact tracing, they would be better able to shut down some businesses properly Will be Instead, they are making “broad-brush decisions” based on what they know to be high-risk, until they know more.

“Those who are politicizing the response to an epidemic are actually putting public health at risk,” Berkowitz said. “And they are also endangering our economic welfare, and they should be held accountable for this. There is no partisan advantage in getting people sick and ending the epidemic. “