Lisa Hanson, an Albert Lea wine bar owner charged with violating COVID-related restrictions, said from an undisclosed location Friday that she had no plans to turn herself in until authorities agree to several conditions.
Among those conditions, she said, is getting served by the sheriff with "the proper summons with the charges." She added that "jurisdiction must be established by the court."
But Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag said Hanson "is in no position to be making conditions," and called her description of a phone conversation she had with him "lunacy."
Hanson's defiance has caused a small uproar in Albert Lea, a city of 17,400 near the Iowa border where her Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro is located. She faces nine misdemeanor criminal counts, each carrying penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Hanson, 56, is charged with keeping her wine bar open for six days in December and January in violation of Gov. Tim Walz's emergency order closing all such venues because of the pandemic.
She also is charged with violating orders limiting bars to half their indoor capacity, failing to maintain social distancing and staying open later than 10 p.m., after bars were allowed to be partly open in January.
When Hanson failed to show up for a bail hearing on March 10, the court issued a warrant for her arrest. Freitag didn't have her immediately arrested, but later that month he said he sent deputies to find her without success.
Hanson said Friday that she didn't have a lawyer but was "working with someone who is learned in law."
"I am not going to confirm or deny where I am at right now," she said. "I am actually traveling on business. ... It is nobody's business where I am. I am a law-abiding citizen. We have a right to live our lives in peace and move around freely."
According to Minnesota rules of criminal procedure, Hanson said, a warrant may be issued only after a summons is properly served. "There was no summons issued, therefore a person cannot be compelled into court," she said.
Hanson said that Freitag told her she wouldn't be arrested if she either turned herself in or called the court to get a new court date. "I was clear that I was not going to give [him] an answer at that time," she said.
Freitag — who said he had the discretion to not immediately arrest her — said she had agreed to follow one of his two options, but did neither.
"She lied to me," he said.
The sheriff said a summons and complaint were mailed to Hanson but the court never got it returned.
"She was properly served [the summons]," he said. "One of the problems is that [Hanson] has read a few pamphlets and thinks she knows everything there is about the judicial process."
City Attorney Kelly Martinez, who has given Freitag heat for not immediately serving the warrant, said Friday that her office had fully followed the law.
Hanson "was personally served with a complaint at the scheduled arraignment," Martinez said.
"She acknowledged the charges and her rights in a criminal proceeding. Likewise, she's been served notice of the March 10 hearing and because she failed to appear at the hearing, warrants were issued by the court."
Joseph Daly, an emeritus professor at Mitchell-Hamline School of Law, said that Minnesota rules say that issuing a warrant rather than a summons isn't grounds for objection to an arrest or a court's jurisdiction.
"Whoever is advising her should give her a copy [of the rules]," Daly said. "Read the whole thing, not just parts of it."
Hanson said she believes Walz is in violation of a 2005 legislative decree that the governor cannot declare an emergency based on a public health crisis.
"What that means is that his order is unlawful ... from the very beginning," she said. "When we took on this fight, it was not about myself and my business. [It was] my hope that by exposing the corruption and by educating the people, speaking the truth, we will have our liberties and freedoms returned to us, according to common law which this country was founded upon."
Daly said that if Hanson wants to practice civil disobedience, she must suffer the consequences of her actions.
"You appear before the civil authority who issued the warrant and you argue why it is unconstitutional," he said. "You don't run away, you don't ignore authority."
Although she has eluded sheriff's deputies, who periodically drop by her house in Hayward, Minn., seven miles east of Albert Lea, Hanson said she was not worried about being arrested.
"If I am arrested on an invalid warrant, I will be taking action at law against all parties involved," she said.