The Governor issued an Executive Order stating that all restaurants could not offer seating to customers. All Customers must use “take out” or “pick up.”
Violating the Order is a crime. Businesses that stay open in violation of the order will be subject to not only criminal prosecution, but probably also expose the business to additional civil liability for any negative impact on public health.
So, what does this mean for Lincoln County? On Monday, May 28 2020. Mitchem’s Kitchen opened for business as a “sit down” restaurant in violation of the statewide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Here is the text:
Every member of the General Assembly and every person elected or appointed to hold any office of trust or profit in the State shall, before taking office or entering upon the execution of the office, take and subscribe to the following oath:
“I, _, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not
inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.”
(1781, c. 342, s. 1, P.R.; R.C., c. 76, s. 4; Code, s. 3312; Rev., s. 2358; C.S., s.
3194; 1985, c. 756, s. 5.)
So, what do we have here in Lincoln County?
Starting at the beginning, anyone who violates the Executive Order has committed a crime and is subject to criminal prosecution.
A business who violates the Order is also liable for civil liability (lawsuits) for putting anyone in danger. One example of this is contracting a disease by either employees or customers or both.
Let me repeat: Criminal prosecution and Civil liability.
Next, Chairman Mitchem violated his oath of office by not faithfully executing the the laws of the State of North Carolina.
Many in Lincoln County think that what Carroll Mitchem did by reopening was simply a publicity stunt. Perhaps it was. Perhaps it was ignorance. Perhaps it was civil disobedience. Maybe it was all three. The facts are that a publicity stunt that violates a law is still illegal. Ignorance of the law in a court is no excuse, and I can go through an entire list of people who civilly disobeyed a law who went to jail.
Does the law in Lincoln County apply equally to everyone? We’ll find out.