Judge denies Marlena’s motion to dismiss case and award damages


HOLLAND — A judge has refused to dismiss the case against a Dutch restaurant owner who was jailed and fined $15,000 for failing to comply with court orders to close his restaurant.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria, recently asked an Ingham County judge to dismiss the case against her and award her damages.

After:Appeals court hears arguments in ‘strange’ case involving owner of Marlena’s Bistro

After:Six months later, Marlena’s Bistro reopens in Holland

But on Thursday, October 6, Judge Wanda Stokes sided with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which filed an initial complaint in February 2021.

Pavlos-Hackney appeared on MDARD’s radar in late 2020 when reports surfaced that she was not enforcing statewide pandemic restrictions, including social distancing and the wearing of mask. Its food license was revoked in January 2021 – but the restaurant remained open.

A judge has refused to dismiss the case against a Dutch restaurant owner who was jailed and fined $15,000 for failing to comply with court orders to close his restaurant.

Pavlos-Hackney ignored a temporary restraining order meant to prevent him from continuing his business and refused to allow inspectors or law enforcement to enter his restaurant. In response, Stokes issued a warrant for Pavlos-Hackney’s arrest.

Shortly after, she was arrested by Michigan State Police and spent four nights in Ingham County Jail following her arraignment by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. She was released on March 23, after paying a $15,000 contempt fine and closing her restaurant.

In June 2021, Pavlos-Hackney presented his legal argument to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The action sought to reconsider contempt of court findings, release Pavlos-Hackney’s impeachment audio or video and alter an “inaccurate” transcript – all motions Stokes denied in May.

The restaurant’s food license was reinstated in July, and Marlena’s Bistro reopened in September.

Throughout 2022, the restaurant has been a stopping point for political candidates – including Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who visited the restaurant most recently on Wednesday October 5, and former Republican candidate gubernatorial Ryan Kelley, who is currently facing charges for his involvement in the January 6 Uprising on the United States Capitol.

The Pavlos-Hackney case also continued to make its way through the Michigan Court of Appeals. Both sides presented their arguments at a hearing in August, after which the panel of judges said they had to decide whether the case was civil or criminal in nature. It’s unclear when a decision could be made.

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The restaurateur, under new legal representation, hoped another petition in Ingham County Court would see a quicker resolution.

In an email sent to his supporters, Pavlos-Hackney said his arrest and imprisonment were “unconstitutional and unlawful”. The government should be at the service of the people, it oversteps its authority and does not follow its own mandates and it tries to take away our constitutionally protected rights, but we the people are in charge and must fight and stand up.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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