New court edict orders Owosso barbershop 'locked and closed'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

A new court order issued Friday says the 77-year-old Owosso barber who has defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home orders "must immediately cease all business operations."

Shiawassee County Circuit Judge Matthew Stewart issued an order Friday after the Court of Appeals issued its own, telling the judge to "immediately sign and enter a preliminary injunction order."

The new court order says the shop "shall be locked and closed." 

Karl Manke, 77, waves to supporters outside of his barbershop on West Main Street in Owosso Monday. Manke opened his barbershop and has hired Kallman Legal Group as his legal counsel because he was charged with criminal misdemeanor violations for allegedly violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders.

Failure to comply with the court order would result in a fine or jail or both for Manke, according to the latest edict. If he refuses to close the shop, he could be fined up to $7,500 and jailed until he complies with the court order and pays any fine under Michigan's contempt law. 

The shop must remain shut until Michigan Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon rescinds his May 8 "Imminent Danger and Abatement Order." 

As the court maneuverings happened, barber Karl Manke appeared to continue business in Owosso. A person who answered the phone at his barbershop Friday afternoon said Manke was "in the middle of a haircut" and couldn't do an interview.

On Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered the lower court to issue an injunction forcing Manke to "immediately cease" all operations.

But Manke's attorney David Kallman contended the Court of Appeals order was entered in violation of Michigan Supreme Court rules, and he planned to challenge it.

Kallman argued that Manke could continue to operate while a higher court decided whether to take up the case. On Thursday, Manke said his business was still open and had been "busy all day."

"We're in a fifth round of a 10-round prize fight," Manke said. "I am still standing up. I have no intention of standing down.”

Shiawassee County Circuit Judge Matthew Stewart issued his preliminary injunction order on Friday, May 29, 2020.

Last week, Stewart, the trial court judge, refused to issue a preliminary injunction against Manke, who has gained national attention for refusing to close his shop despite orders from Whitmer's administration requiring him to do so amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services appealed the case to a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals, which issued Thursday a 2-1 decision reversing the trial court.