Hernando business faces summons over response to pandemic

Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 10:26 PM CST
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HERNANDO, Miss. (WMC) - A north Mississippi business is facing legal troubles over the way it has responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the case is also shrouded in secrecy with local leaders and the court system being slow to share information about what’s happening.

The Hernando police chief confirmed to WMC Action News 5 that Commerce Street Market, a gift shop business in Hernando, did get a summons earlier this year for a COVID-19 violation.

No one seemed to be able to tell WMC details of the summons other than it was related to COVID-19. We were told to go to the city clerk’s office to get a copy of the summons. But when we got there, an employee told us she could not provide the summons even though it is a public record. We were told to fill out a request first.

“Why would I fill that out if you can’t give it to me?” WMC Action News 5 reporter Janice Broach asked.

“I can’t give it to you. My supervisor that is going to be here Monday, she can give you whatever she can,” said an employee at the city clerk’s office.

Her supervisor is the court clerk. The employee said is she is the deputy court clerk.

When we went to Commerce Street Market to see if someone there would explain it, we were told to talk with their attorney.

We also went to the law office of Vance Daly but no one was there. We were able to talk with Daly by phone who said at this point he has no comment and would have to find out what the market owners want him to say.

We also talked by phone with Hernando Mayor Tom Ferguson. He said he did not know who issued the summons a few months ago and didn’t have details of what it involved. We asked if his office worked with the Commerce Street Market and the mayor said his office works with all businesses.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a statewide shelter in place executive order -- effective April 3.

One part of the order shut down all non-essential businesses.

It is not clear exactly why Commerce Street Market got the summons. We were told the business did not close during the period of the executive order. The summons has not made it through the courts.

Ferguson said he is getting a briefing on the case Tuesday morning and will get the summons issued to the Commerce Street Market.

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