Attorney Mark Benjamin fights on. Herewith Mister Benjamin’s latest press release. MARK W. BENJAMIN
Criminal Defense, P.A.
237 Second Avenue SW, Suite 111
Cambridge, MN 55008
763-691-0900 (office)
763-670-9664 (mobile)

Press Release

Theater Night – Oral Arguments at Court of Appeals – April 16th at 10:40 a.m. in Duluth.

Mark your calendar. On Thursday morning, April 16th at 10:40 a.m., Mark Benjamin will present his oral argument to the Minnesota Court of Appeals on behalf of his client Tom Marinaro. Mr. Marinaro is the owner of Tank’s Bar in Babbitt, Minnesota. On the afternoon of March 14, 2008, he was issued a citation for violating Minnesota’s smoking ban, even though his bar was participating in “Theater Night” at the time. Mr. Marinaro demanded a court trial and claimed he was innocent of any wrong-doing, given that the ban allows smoking during “theatrical performances” by “actors” and “actresses”. This exception provides no guidance, standards or restrictions on the venue of the play, the quality of the performance or the credentials of the performers. Mr. Marinaro may not be a patron of the performing arts, but he put on the best play he could and claimed that smoking in his bar was legal as long as the play was being performed.

The trial court disagreed, found Mr. Marinaro guilty and fined him $300. Mr. Marinaro appealed.

Mr. Benjamin will argue that the language of the exception to the state’s smoking ban is clear and unambiguous, namely, that smoking is allowed by actors and actresses during a theatrical performance as long as non-actors are advised ahead of time.

Mr. Marinaro displayed posters outside of his establishment and performance programs inside – all advising patrons that “The Gunsmoke Monologues” would be performed from 3:00 p.m. to closing every day and that there would be some smoking during the performance. Any patron who wanted to perform (and smoke) in Mr. Marinaro’s play had to wear a clearly-marked ID stating that he or she was an actor.

Although the media has had a good chuckle at the Theater Night “loophole”, many participating bar owners claimed it to be a “lifeline”, allowing them to retain waitresses and bartenders and pay their bills. For instance, before he started participating in Theater Night, Mr. Marinaro laid off his office manager of 18 years, shut down his restaurant on Sundays and Mondays, and cut the hours of his bartenders.

Our hope is to win at the Court of Appeals and then petition the legislature to make reasonable accommodations for our struggling bar owners. In this way, we hope to achieve a healthy balance between physical and fiscal health for all Minnesota citizens.

Join us at the St. Louis County Courthouse, 100 North Fifth Avenue West in Duluth on April 16th.

Our show goes on.



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