Appeals Court judge won’t stop injunctions, three-judge panel next; Beshear reacts

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Saying the law should be applied when times are both “tranquil” and “in flux,” a state Court of Appeals judge declined Monday to stop two temporary restraining orders issued by circuit court judges blocking enforcement of some of Gov. Andy Beshear’s coronavirus-related orders.

Beshear’s request to block the orders will now go to a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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The initial ruling marks a setback for the governor, who had sounded confident Friday in saying he wanted the issues before the Court of Appeals and ultimately the state Supreme Court quickly. He’s called the rulings by Boone Circuit Judge Richard A. Bruegemann and Scott Circuit Judge Brian Privett “dangerous” and potentially stopping efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

During his briefing Monday, the governor said it’s another step in the process of getting the cases before the state Supreme Court.

“We’ll get this to the Supreme Court, but every day a restraining order is in place, it is dangerous,” he said.

“We need the legal certainty, we don’t need this back and forth. I am not in this to win court cases, I’m in this to save lives.”

Asked about legislators and others like Attorney General Dan Cameron who said all the governor has to do is consult them and the lawsuits will go away, Beshear said, “That’s not the law…I’ve got limited time to make these decisions, I’m talking to health experts, other governors.”

He also noted legislators and others are getting updates, including Quarles, who got an hour-long update from Dr. Steven Stack after sending a letter to the governor’s office with questions.

“If I get caught up in the drama everyday, I’m fighting other people and not COVID-19,” Beshear said.

In his ruling, Judge Glenn Acree said he wasn’t ruling on the merits of Beshear’s arguments against the two orders. He left that for the three-judge panel. But he said it wasn’t yet time to block the orders.

“That this season of our history is temporarily in flux does not alone justify a similar fluidity in our procedural or substantive jurisprudence,” Acree said in his decision, according to the Herald-Leader.

He declared the governor “failed to offer a reason why Kentucky courts should not apply our laws and procedures in these troubled times the same as when our times are tranquil, just as we apply laws and procedures equally to pauper and prince,” the Herald-Leader reported.

Acree said restraining orders are “intended to be short-lived,” and noted granting the governor’s immediate request would bypass “the regular appellate process and requires significant interference with the lower courts’ administration of justice,” according to the newspaper.

In the Boone County case, Bruegemann granted restraining orders stopping enforcement against a speedway and day care center, changing the rules to allow more people to attend car races and saying day care centers could allow groups of up to 28 children together.

In the Scott County case, Privett said the governor’s restrictions limiting crowds of up to 50 people didn’t apply to the state’s 568 agritourism businesses — from distilleries of farm markets, orchards and county agriculture arenas. That case was brought by Evans Orchard and Cider Mill in Scott County and state Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles.

Both cases argued the governor violated some sections of state law by not seeking public input and advice from the General Assembly in establishing his orders.

Accordig to Couyrt of Appeals records, a hearing is set for 1 p.m. Thursday.