- November 3, 2021
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SNOHOMISH — An independent state appeals board heard rebellious barber Bob Martin’s case last week.
Martin’s shop on Avenue D, Stag Barber and Styling, publicly resumed giving haircuts in May 2020 in violation of business shutdowns imposed during the emerging coronavirus pandemic.
The state Department of Licensing (DOL) began penalizing Martin and The Stag for it, and the state Attorney General’s office sent the barber a cease-and-desist letter.
Martin disputed these penalties to the state Office of Administrative Hearings, a board where people can appeal state and local government actions.
An attorney for the state Attorney General’s office told the judge that the “sole issue is whether (Martin) continues to practice and whether he has a license.” The attorney called it “a simple application of law.”
Martin said at the hearing that he does not need a license to cut hair because the U.S. Constitution allows him the freedom to make a living. He defended defying the government’s shutdown in his testimony by saying he had an obligation to act.
“When the government ceased to protect its citizens, I have an obligation to speak out,” Martin testified. “When the government colludes with others to cause injury and death of its citizens, I have an obligation to act. When government claims information is founded in science, when its founded results continues to change, I have an obligation to speak the truth — that is not science,” he said, also criticizing Critical Race Theory, the alienation of self-protection and police defunding.
“When government has the intent to reduce populations by means of vaccination, I have an obligation to speak out,” Martin continued. “When government denies citizens the ability to provide for their family, I have an obligation to provide.”
Later, Martin replied to Judge Jane Shefler that “nobody’s able to stop me,” telling the judge soon after that “you’re wasting your time (and) you’re wasting my time.”
As of Thursday, Oct. 28, the hearings board judge handling Martin’s case has not issued a decision, its office said. Shefler announced she will produce a decision within 30 days, which is a Nov. 24 deadline.
State law requires all barbers and salon stylists to hold a cosmetology license. They must pass exams and go to beauty school before being able to get a license. Martin obtained his state license in 1967 and opened the Stag in 1969.
Martin’s cosmetology license was suspended by the DOL in May 2020 shortly after it became public he was cutting hair while businesses were under lockdown.
The DOL fined him a cumulative $90,000 — $5,000 a day — for continuing to cut hair without a license. These fines stopped in June 2020 when the DOL issued a Statement of Charges. Martin is not currently racking up further fines, DOL spokeswoman Christine Anthony said last week.
His license expired in June 2021 but he remained in business as of last month.
The hearings are “part of the administrative disciplinary process and his right to request a hearing,” Anthony said.
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