HOLLAND — The Michigan Court of Appeals has finally issued a decision in the bizarre case of Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, upholding two contempt orders but sending the second order back to the trial court for “reframing.”
This is the second legal blow to Dutch restaurateur Pavlos-Hackney this month, after a denial by Ingham County Judge Wanda Stokes dismiss the case and award damages to Pavlos-Hackney.
Pavlos-Hackney has long maintained that his constitutional rights were violated, both when he was asked and ordered to close his restaurant – Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria – during the winter months of 2020 and 2021 for failing to follow through. COVID-19 restrictions, and when she was arrested on an outstanding warrant and jailed for several days until she paid $15,000 in contempt of court fines.
Despite his best efforts, it seems unlikely that Pavlos-Hackney will see all, if not most, of that money returned. Pavlos-Hackney first took his legal argument to the Michigan Court of Appeals in June 2021. The action sought to reconsider contempt of court findings, release Pavlos-Hackney’s impeachment audio or video, and alter an “inaccurate” transcript ” – all motions denied by Stokes in May 2021.
The split Court of Appeals issued a majority opinion on Thursday, October 20, upholding both contempt of court findings, but returning the second contempt charge to Ingham County Court for “reframing”. The court said Pavlos-Hackney had received, in full, the due process to which she was entitled and could have argued that the fines posed an insurmountable difficulty before payment.
The court found that the first contempt order was “clearly non-receivable”, given Pavlos-Hackney’s “continuing, deliberate and open defiance” of court orders. However, because Pavlos-Hackney actually closed his restaurant after his incarceration, the Ingham County Court must now decide whether the second fine was “conditional or compensatory”.
The first contempt order, the appeals court said, fell into the “conditional” category – a $7,500 fine intended to compel Pavlos-Hackney to comply. If the second order falls into the same category, the court said, the fine could be refunded in whole or in part, as the restaurant eventually closed.
If the second order falls into the “compensatory” category, the court could consider using the funds to reimburse the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which has been litigating the case against Pavlos-Hackney since early 2021. he fine could also be divided between the parties.
The court’s finding was signed by two judges, Amy Ronayne Krause and Kristina Robinson Garrett, while a dissent was filed by Judge Brock Swartzle.
Swartzle argued that the first finding of contempt should also be returned and considered for reimbursement to MDARD, or considered for reimbursement to Pavlos-Hackney due to financial hardship. Swartzle wrote that just because Pavlos-Hackney was able to pay the fines at the time of his incarceration does not mean payment was not difficult.
Pavlos-Hackney appeared on MDARD’s radar in late 2020, when reports surfaced she was do not apply Statewide pandemic restrictions, including social distancing and mask-wearing. His the food license has been revoked in January 2021 — but the restaurant remained open.
Pavlos Hackney ignored a temporary injunction wanted to prevent him from continuing his activities and refused to allow inspectors or law enforcement to enter his restaurant. In response, Stokes published a arrest warrant for the arrest of Pavlos-Hackney.
Shortly after, she was arrested by Michigan State Police and spent four nights in the Ingham County Jail after his arraignment by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. She was released on March 23after paying the $15,000 contempt fines and closing his restaurant.
Throughout 2022, the restaurant has been a stopping point for political candidates – including Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who visited the restaurant on Wednesday, October 5, and former Republican gubernatorial candidate of Gov. Ryan Kelley, who is currently facing charges for his involvement in the Jan. 6 uprising on the US Capitol.
Pavlos-Hackney repeatedly declined to comment on The Sentinel.
— Contact editor Cassandra Lybrink at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @CassLybrink.