Leon County mask ordinance upheld in court

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 3:25 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Leon County judge has upheld the County’s mask ordinance. The hearing ran from 9:30 a.m. to about 3:15 p.m. It was dogged by technical difficulties at its start, including what’s often called “zoom-bombing;” anonymous members of the public were playing loud music.

The Plaintiff, Leon County Republican Party Chair Evan Power, and his attorney, Florida Representative Anthony Sabatini, argued that the ordinance was vague, and violated the Florida Constitution’s Privacy

Clause and due process.

However, the judge disagreed.

“There is no violation of a clear and legal right here,” said Judge Cooper. “If you do get a fine, you can contest it in court.”

Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge testified about the meetings leading up to the County’s special meeting in June, during which the mask mandate was implemented.

“That’s probably my primary duty at the end of the day. Trying to make decisions that do in fact look out for the health, safety, and the welfare of people in Leon County,” said Commissioner Desloge.

Megan Gumke, a regional epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health, was a witness for the County, describing the recent numbers.

"What we use to give a better idea of what's happening, is look at percent positivity rates," said Gumke.

According to Gumke, the first week of June had a positivity rate of 0.72%, mid-June was 4.36%,and the first week of July was 9.21%.

"Unfortunately it's been steadily rising over the last month," said Gumke.

On the issue of vagueness, the Judge ruled that it would be almost impossible for the County to write an ordinance that would account for every possible exception.

"Mandatory does make a difference for most people, not everyone," said Judge Cooper.

Judge Cooper also said that if the County had not passed the ordinance, with the rising posivitity rate in the area, they could have been charged with being irresponsible.

Representative Sabatini tweeted after the hearing, saying he intends to appeal.

2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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