By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published January 5, 2022
Administrative judges decline Stag barber’s appeals
SNOHOMISH — Two administrative hearing judges have turned down appeals from rebel barber Bob Martin of Snohomish’s Stag Barber and Styling, putting him back to square one.
The state Department of Licensing (DOL) began penalizing Martin and The Stag for operating when Snohomish County salons and barbershops were under COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, and the state Attorney General’s office gave notice it would send a cease-and-desist letter.
Martin disputed these penalties to the state Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), a board where people can appeal state and local government actions.
The appeals at least bought time: The DOL, through the state attorney general’s office, began seeking a cease and desist order in December 2020 against Martin, but its ability to commit to one was suspended when it was taken into an administrative hearing process.
On Nov. 17, OAH Administrative Law Judge Jane Shefler rendered a decision upholding that the state can regulate his ability to work.
The DOL can now issue a permanent cease and desist order, and penalize Martin a $1,000 civil fine for every day thereafter he works as a barber in violation, Shefler determined.
Martin argued he does not need a license to cut hair because the U.S. Constitution allows him the freedom to make a living.
Shefler wrote that the “right to pursue a trade or profession is not an unfettered, fundamental right” as the state can regulate occupations where public health is involved such as haircutting.
A separate appeal case Martin filed wound up with a decision against him, too.
On Nov. 22, OAH Administrative Law Judge Travis Dupree denied Martin’s appeal trying to vacate a default order favoring the DOL after he missed a hearing in July.
Martin emphasized his absence was an oversight. “I don’t know what the big deal was on missing that in July — it wasn’t intentional,” Martin said during the Nov. 12 proceedings with Dupree.
Near the end of that hearing, Martin said: “Looks like this thing’s heading toward court, and that’s fine.”
Martin had time to appeal each of the judges’ rulings. The newspaper is not aware at press time on whether he has.
Martin’s shop on Avenue D
publicly resumed giving haircuts in May 2020 in violation of business shutdowns imposed during the emerging coronavirus pandemic.
Martin’s cosmetology license was initially suspended and ultimately revoked for 10 years by the DOL in November 2020 as a consequence of continuing to do business.
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