Plaintiff in Leon County mask mandate lawsuit continues to fight against county-wide ordinance

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 6:58 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County mask mandate debate continues.

The county-wide mask mandate went into effect in late June and the lawsuit brought against the county was filed right after.

Back in July, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled in favor of the county, saying that wearing a mask does not violate constitutional rights.

The man who brought the lawsuit against the county, Evan Power, and his attorney, Anthony Sabatini, say the county should have lifted the mandate when Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order saying that local governments can longer enforce penalties to those who are not in compliance.

Initially, residents could have faced up to a $250 fine if they were in violation.

“We were planning on wrapping the case and just letting it end cause the government can’t do anything," Sabatini said. “Well, the lawless Leon County Commission has decided they’re going to mock the governor by ignoring his order.”

While Leon County is no longer enforcing penalties if a resident is in violation of the mandate, Leon County Commission Chair, Bryan Desloge, says the mask mandate continues to be in effect to help save lives.

“I can tell you we have the experts on our side, we have been talking to health experts. It’s not a perfect answer, we are doing the best we know how with the information that we have frankly we are in untested uncharted waters,” said Chairman Desloge.

Vice-chair for Leon County Commission, Rick Minor, says masks continue to work.

“We know, we know that wearing a mask helps reduce the spread of COVID. We have more information more evidence now than we did several months ago. We know that they work,” he said.

Meanwhile, Evan Power says Leon County is wasting taxpayer dollars.

“What we’re seeing is they are wasting over $40,000 on lawsuits that the governor says they can’t enforce and if we appeal, which we are going to do now, will mean it will only mean more taxpayer dollars to spend on the ill-advised, ill-conceived idea that the governor has said that it should not be in effect,” said Power.

“I would argue that they are wasting our taxpayer dollars; we spent six hours in court and they got soundly beat. We were the first in the state. That has happened repeatedly around the state. There has not been a single court that has upheld their side of the equation,” said Desloge.

So what’s the next step?

Leon County says the mandate will stay in effect for the time being. Power says he will continue to fight the mandate.

Desloge says a Leon County district court ruled that Power and his attorney have until November 12 to file a brief along with their appeal.

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