Jury selected for The Interchange owner Lisa Hanson’s criminal trial

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(ABC 6 News) – Jury selection wrapped up for a case involving the owner of The Interchange in Albert Lea, Lisa Hanson. She faces nine criminal misdemeanor counts including public nuisance and violating an emergency powers rule. This comes after she re-opened her restaurant, The Interchange, in Dec. 2020 and Jan. 2021 during a mandated shutdown.

One large topic of contention in the court Tuesday was the potential juror’s ability to put aside personal opinions about the pandemic, mask mandates and shutdowns in order to reach a verdict based solely on evidence and law.

The court selected six jurors and two alternates. The Judge Joseph Bueltel, Lisa Hanson and City Prosecutor Kelly Martinez questioned around 25 people total.

They hard time finding people who hadn’t already heard of Hanson and this case, or who didn’t have strong personal feelings that would get in the way of a fair verdict.

Hanson asked potential jurors questions like ‘Do you watch CNN’ and ‘do you believe people should comply with rules and mandates?’ They were also asked if they were business owners, or if they had participated in any political protests.

Among the excused were a healthcare worker and someone who works in a local middle school – two people heavily impacted by pandemic shut-downs.

The jury is about half men and half women. Most aren’t avid news readers. Now that the jury has been fully seated, Bueltel can begin hearing opening statements.

Hanson doesn’t have a defense attorney, so she will be making her own case when court resumes at 8:30 am on Wednesday.