Superior Court Judge Shuts Down Pima County Curfew

A Superior Court judge ruled this week that a mandatory curfew imposed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors “is not statutorily authorized and violates the Governor’s Executive Order.”

Approved by the Pima County Supervisors in a split 3-2 vote on December 15, 2020, the curfew essentially shut down commerce between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson issued a temporary order halting enforcement of the curfew. She wrote:

Opinions regarding mitigation measures during this pandemic are varied and widespread. So too are opinions about the curfew imposed in Resolution 2020-98. Many believe the mitigation measures in place are unreasonable and over-restrictive. Many believe the measures fall short of protecting public health and need to be more restrictive. It is undisputed Covid-19 is a serious public health concern that must be controlled. However, it is not the Court’s role to decide or opine whether it agrees or disagrees with the County’s Resolution. Rather, the Court must determine whether is a valid under the law, and whether injunctive relief is appropriate. Because the Court finds the Resolution is not statutorily authorized and violates the Governor’s Executive Order, and that the Plaintiffs have demonstrated the possibility of harm, the Court finds the Plaintiffs are entitled to relief.

“The Pima County curfew was an outrageous mandate that made little sense and unfairly targeted certain businesses,” said Scot Mussi, President of the Free Enterprise Club. “We are very pleased that the court recognized the illegal and arbitrary nature of the curfew and halted its enforcement.”

The lawsuit was brought by attorneys for a group of Pima County small business owners.

“Pima County officials adopted the curfew with the best of intentions, but such restrictions are not only unlawful, they can also have dangerous unintended consequences. Mandates and compulsory curfews increase the likelihood of confrontations between law enforcement and citizens—confrontations that can turn violent, or result in people being taken to jail, where their exposure to COVID-19 is probably higher,” wrote Goldwater attorney Tim Sandefur, of the ruling. “And if recent experience in Chicago and other cities is any clue, curfews are more likely to encourage people to congregate in secret, in confined places where there is a greater risk of infection, rather than in relatively safer outdoor business places.”

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has already approved an appeal of the ruling.