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June 30, 2020

Judge rejects Fauquier winery’s mask challenge

File Photo
Gov. Ralph Northam on May 26 issued an executive order requiring people to wear mask in buildings open to the public.
We have successfully defended Virginia’s mask requirement in court, making this the 10th case we’ve won in defense of our COVID safety measures. Wearing a mask is such an easy way to keep yourselves and others protected and everyone should be doing it!
— Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
A circuit court judge Monday rejected a Hume winery’s legal challenge of the state’s mask-wearing mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philip Carter Strother, Philip Carter Winery and Stillhouse Vineyards earlier this month sought a temporary injunction to prohibit enforcement of Gov. Ralph Northam’s May 26 executive order, which requires people older than 10 to wear masks to help thwart the spread of the coronavirus.

The Northern Fauquier wine operation and its owner argued that the governor’s order conflicts with a longstanding Virginia law that prohibits the use of masks under certain circumstances, creating confusion and potential legal problems for all.

Violation of the governor’s executive order carries a Class 1 misdemeanor penalty; ignoring the state law calls for a Class 6 felony penalty.

The governor has not instructed police to enforce his mask order.

Greene County lawyer Matthew D. Hardin represents Mr. Strother, a Henrico County resident and attorney with deep family roots in Fauquier.

“It’s a disappointment,” Mr. Hardin said of Monday’s circuit court ruling. “The real problem we have here — and it’s still unresolved — is people don’t know what law to follow. People don’t know what to do. And so you’re facing the risk of prosecution no matter what you do.”

Mr. Strother believes that failure to comply with state law and the governor’s mask order might lead to “civil penalties or even criminal penalties,” according to the motion that sought the temporary injunction.

But Judge Jeanette A. Irby, who sits in Leesburg and hears cases in the 20th Judicial Circuit that includes Fauquier, gave no credence to those arguments in her nine-page ruling.

> Document at bottom of story

Judge Irby wrote: “Contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, the governor’s powers do not preclude him from issuing orders requiring face coverings, and in fact, (the state code) explicitly anticipates such an event” — a reference to the coronavirus pandemic.

While “the plaintiffs focus on their fear of prosecution or enforcement” of the governor’s executive order and state code, “this court finds such harm is purely speculative and is not irreparable,” stated the judge, who last Wednesday conducted a hearing by videoconference on the temporary injunction request. “Indeed, the plaintiffs have not alleged that they have been threatened with sanctions, let alone prosecuted.”

In a Tweet on Monday afternoon, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring declared victory.

“We have successfully defended Virginia’s mask requirement in court, making this the 10th case we’ve won in defense of our COVID safety measures,” Mr. Herring wrote. “Wearing a mask is such an easy way to keep yourselves and others protected and everyone should be doing it!”

But his clients’ legal battle continues, Mr. Hardin said.

“We filed for a temporary injunction basically saying while this lawsuit is going on the mask mandate should not be enforced,” he said. “And the judge denied it. She hasn’t finally adjudicated the lawsuit. This is not a final ruling. The suit is going on.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at or 540-270-0300.

FauquierMask Ruling by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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Tony Bentley · July 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm
AmericanPatriot - No problem, don't care.

For others benefit will you at least carry a sign that says you are an obese, under educated, unhealthy savage so they can avoid being less then 6 feet from your spewing.
AmericanPatriot · July 3, 2020 at 9:03 am
And I won't kneel.
AmericanPatriot · July 3, 2020 at 8:59 am
I won't wear the democrat symbol of submission.
Grotius · July 1, 2020 at 11:07 am
"So is it, as Ayn Rand once told an interviewer, that “each man must live as an end in himself, and follow his own rational self-interest?” Or is it more like Woody Guthrie, paraphrasing Tom Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath”: “Everybody might be just one big soul — well, it looks that way to me.”"By TED ANTHONY | The Associated Press

Perhaps you militant individualist could contribute to the common good for a while until we get through this. Ayn Rand is highly overrated, especially now!

Pete Nowotny · July 1, 2020 at 8:35 am
Black mask for our KKK governor.
badelectronics · June 30, 2020 at 6:01 pm
Bonnie C. · June 30, 2020 at 5:07 pm
And I want people to stop acting like truculent children, stamping their little feet & holding their breath till they turn blue because they can't do what they want & they're not intelligent enough to realize that the mask mandate is TO PROTECT THEM & THOSE AROUND THEM. These blowhards with the "gubmint's out to get me" mentality is why we're in this mess in the first place. There wouldn't be any need for mandates if people had an iota of common sense between them. Grow up people!!
AngryBob · June 30, 2020 at 3:46 pm
When this is all over and we've replaced the legislature with sane Republicans, I want them to revoke future governors rights to make these kinds of executive orders.

There is a process for making laws. One person should not have the power to do so - or to close down and destroy businesses. Or to arbitrarily declare a state of emergency for the sole reason of taking away our Constitutional rights.
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