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UPDATED: Court blocks state order limiting restaurant, bar and business capacity

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

The Brillion News

HAYWARD – Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge John Yackel on Wednesday, October 14, issued an order blocking enforcement of the order, by state Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, limiting the number of people who can be in a bars, restaurants and other indoor facilities at a time.

UPDATE ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16: At the request of the governor's office, a new judge was assigned to the case.

He is Bayfield County Circuit Court Judge John Anderson, the recipient of the 2020 Judge of the Year Award from the State Bar of Wisconsin Bench and Bar Committee.

[<< Judge John Anderson, State Bar photo]

To learn more about him, visit the State Bar story on him at

The award recognizes an outstanding circuit court judge who has improved the judicial system during the past year by his or her leadership in advancing the quality of justice, judicial education, or innovative programs. Anderson is the only circuit court judge in Bayfield County.

According to the State Bar Association, those who know him say that Judge Anderson actively seeks out innovation to improve the justice system. And he’s developed such a reputation as an impartial jurist that he was nominated for the award by both a prosecutor and a defender.

The order follows a lawsuit filed in Sawyer County by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, the Sawyer County Tavern League and The Flambeau Forest Inn. The suit also names Julia Lyons, the Sawyer County Health Officer, as a defendant.

The suit, filed on Tuesday, October 13, is based on the state Supreme Court ruling, issued in May, which requires the executive branch to get legislative approval through the rule-making process in order to extend any orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last week, however, Palm flatly ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling: on October 6, Palm issued Emergency Order #3 without following the rulemaking procedures [in state law],” said Josh Johanningmeier, an attorney with the law firm Godfrey & Kahn.

The suit said that businesses in the state “are likely to suffer irreparable harm” due to “significant business losses” if not given relief from Palm’s order.

Judge Yackel issued an order on October 14 temporarily suspending enforcement of the October 6 orders limiting businesses to 25 percent of capacity. The judge set Monday, October 19, for a hearing on a permanent injunction.


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