Cleveland business owner’s fight against COVID order goes to trial

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found the woman behind a tiny shop going to trial to take on Cleveland City Hall and even the state of Ohio while fighting a COVID-19 health order.

Last year, we met Jamie Davis after she had been cited at her shop called The Yard Sale Lady.

And now, after all this time and months of court hearings, Davis says she’s ready to finish her fight at trial even though her citation is little more than a traffic ticket.

She said, “No, I am not giving up.”

Police body camera video released to the I-Team shows what happened last April shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak had begun.

Officers stopped at the store on the west side since the governor had issued an order saying only businesses considered essential could be open.

The video shows an officer go to the door and say, “We got a call about your business here. What are you selling?” Davis answered, “Little bit of everything. Clothing. Household goods.”

The officer later said, “You’re not allowed to operate unless you’re an essential service, an essential business. That’s what the order is. A retail shop is not considered an essential business.”

And, to that Davis responded, “My customers think so.”

Thursday, Davis told the I-Team, “I was not open to the public because you have to ring my doorbell and get buzzed in. So, since they can’t prove I was open to the public, now they are trying to get me on technicalities.”

At the Justice Center we wondered, what’s the worst that could happen? In this case, we found, the maximum punishment would be a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Records show Davis tried to make a deal to plead guilty and have her record wiped clean as long as she stayed out of trouble. But, at least so far, the court has not gone along with that.

That would be a first offenders’ program, and Davis admits she had some very minor trouble with the law when she was 18, more than two decades ago.

Meantime, the court’s rules for the program refer to records over the last ten years.

We’ve shown you before, not many people got cited for the state’s initial health orders. In one other case we followed, a businessperson cited plead guilty to a lesser charge. He didn’t even end up paying a fine.

Jamie plans to take her fight all the way.

She added, “But, it’s just the principle. I need to ask for a jury trial, so that way I can get people in from the community.”

Back to the video, an officer tells Davis. “I mean, it’s not gonna go away.”

In fact, it’s not going away. Due to come back up in court again next month.

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