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Judge dismisses charges against hair stylists at State Capitol protest

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Lansing District Court Judge Kristen Simmons dismissed  misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges Monday against six hair stylists.

The women cut hair in front of the Michigan Capitol in May to protest against Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders that closed down barbershops and hair salons last spring to help curb the spread of COVID-19."Our clients are very happy," said David Kallman, attorney for the six women. "They no longer face the prospect of having a criminal record, potential jail time and fines, for simply exercising their right to peaceably protest and speak out."

"Symbolic speech like cutting hair is protected under the First Amendment," Kallman said. "And they were doing it to protest the Governor's lockdown orders."

Kallman said the Attorney General's Office did not file a response to the defendants' motion to dismiss the case and did not attend the hearing yesterday.

Kallman said the judge did not address the merits of his clients' arguments in her ruling.

"She simply said, 'Well, the Attorney General's office has had their opportunity. They obviously don't oppose it. So I'm granting the motion to dismiss,'" said Kallman.

Kallman argued the charges should have been dropped back in October after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 opinion that the governor's orders had been issued under a law it deemed unconstitutional.

The Attorney General's Office said in a written statement Tuesday that it chose not to proceed with the criminal cases. It declined to offer an explanation of that decision.

The six hair stylists continue to face administrative licensing complaints brought by the state. 

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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