Within the newest improvement within the prolonged authorized between Santa Clara County and Calvary Chapel, a decide rejected a Santa Clara County bid to extend the $1.2 million courtroom ordered fines owed by the San Jose church for ignoring public well being mandates on the peak of the pandemic.
Throughout a courtroom listening to final Thursday, the county argued the sooner greenback quantity was reached in error. The county started fining the Hillsdale Avenue church in August 2020 for holding indoor providers with maskless congregants — a violation of public well being orders on the time.
However the church refused to pay the fines, which in 2022 the county mentioned had amassed to just about $3 million. In April, Santa Clara County Superior Court docket Decide Evette D. Pennypacker ordered Calvary Chapel to pay $1.2 million, lowering the fines to a particular interval — November 2020 by means of June 2021 — when the church didn’t observe the masks mandate.
However final week, the county’s attorneys argued that quantity fell wanting what that they had fined the church and requested the decide to extend the order to $2,457,400. Pennypacker denied the county’s request.
“The county had requested the courtroom to right what the county believed was a mistake in calculating the fines, and the courtroom confirmed its computation,” Santa Clara County Counsel Tony LoPresti mentioned in a press release. “The county is happy with its public well being orders, enforcement and total response to the pandemic, which saved hundreds of lives, leading to one of many lowest loss of life charges of any main county in the US.”
Mariah Gondeiro, an lawyer for Advocates for Religion and Freedom, which represents the church, mentioned in an electronic mail that “the church has no plans on paying the fines.”
“They are going to be interesting the choice and are assured the appeals courtroom will aspect with the church,” she mentioned.
Calvary Chapel fired again on the county for its public well being mandates final week by submitting a lawsuit within the U.S. District Court docket in San Francisco alleging that the county “launched into an invasive and warrantless geofencing operation to trace residents” through the pandemic.
In late 2020 and early 2021, the county used publicly obtainable third-party cellphone knowledge to trace the density of worshipers contained in the church, in line with courtroom paperwork filed final November.
The county then used knowledge, which was from the Denver-based firm SafeGraph, to check the dimensions of Calvary Chapel’s providers from March 2020 to 2021 with different gatherings all through the county.
Within the lawsuit, the church and Pastor Mike McClure referred to as the geofencing operation “not simply un-American,” however “downright Orwellian.”