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Former bar owner says rights violated

WILLOW CITY – David Corum, whose Willow City bar was impacted by a pandemic closure order last spring, said he hopes to file a civil rights complaint in federal court.

Northeast District Judge Anthony Swain Benson ruled Jan. 6 that Corum violated Gov. Doug Burgum’s March 19 executive order that temporarily closed bars and restaurants due to COVID-19. The Bottineau County Sheriff’s Office issued infraction citations five times to Corum’s Gunslingers Grill during the time period in which bars were required to be closed. Corum had argued he had given up his liquor license and was conducting private events at which people donated toward alcohol expenses.

The maximum penalty for each infraction is $1,000. Sentencing is set for Feb. 2.

“I definitely will appeal,” Corum said Tuesday. “The issues are so hardcore constitutional.”

He said as a result of the executive order, he had to close his business permanently. He has been contacting other bar owners about hosting fundraisers for a legal challenge in federal court against executive orders forcing business closures. Helping with a legal fund is one way bars and restaurants that failed to stand with him previously to protect their constitutional rights can participate in seeking justice and guard against similar executive orders in the future, he said.

“I don’t think this is over. I think we are looking at the new normal, and it isn’t very pretty, he said of future executive orders.

Corum also said he plans to request a governor’s pardon regarding the infractions. Even if it proves not to be a successful exercise, he said, there would be humor in it.

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