Prosecutors have closed their case against an Alabama chiropractor and gym owner who was arrested last year for violating a COVID-19 health ordinance.
Dr. Aric Butler, the owner of Doc’s Gym and Family Chiropractic, was arrested on May 1, 2020. Police said he opened his business in Rogersville, a town of about 1,300 residents in Lauderdale County, northwest Alabama, in violation of the statewide order.
At the time, Alabama was under an order that required the closure of gyms and many other businesses to slow the spread of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic.
Lauderdale County’s District Judge Will Powell last week upheld a prosecutor’s motion to dismiss the case.
“Establishing a jury to try this case will add further delays to other cases on file and is not in the interests of the efficient administration of justice,” Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly wrote in the dismissal motion.
Connolly said the court’s time would be better spent on the 296 crime cases listed on this month’s trial files in the District Court in downtown Florence.
The charge Butler has faced is considered a violation, similar to a parking ticket, with a maximum fine of $ 500 and not a jail sentence.
“We never intended to put him in jail,” Connolly told AL.com. “We just felt like he should do what other companies in Rogersville and across Lauderdale County have done – follow orders.”
Typically, a minor case would be treated like a misdemeanor or violation in a banking proceeding where a judge decides and there is no jury. However, Butler’s attorney James Irby appealed earlier this year, calling for a jury trial.
Irby was not available for comment for this story.
Butler told AL.com shortly after his arrest that his family suffered a severe financial blow while the gym was closed.
The Alabama State Board of Chiropractic Examiners announced last year that it would investigate Butler’s arrest. Sheila Bolton, the executive director, told AL.com this week that the board was unaware that Butler’s case had been dismissed. She said he had a license to practice and that no action had been taken against him.