Bruce Hicks was defiantly outspoken when he lost his first trial for violating the state's smoking ban at his Colorado Springs bar.
He was decidedly less effusive after losing his second full-day trial a week later: El Paso County Judge Karla Hansen imposed a gag order barring him or anyone else involved in the case from spouting off.
Around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hicks wordlessly left Hansen's courtroom holding a white piece of paper recording the penalty for his latest conviction. The cost, including court fees, came to $221.
Whether such a penalty could deter Hicks and other bar owners from letting patrons smoke is an open question. The ban went into effect July 1, 2006, and Hicks, owner of Murray Street Darts at 609 N. Murray Blvd., tried the following winter to drum up support among bar owners to defy the ban, which he says cost him a quarter of his business. Hicks believed courts would be paralyzed if enough bar owners defied the ban and fought in court.
Thought a few other local bars face trials on suspected smoking ban violations, Hicks stands largely alone. He has two convictions, with a pair of additional trials coming soon.
A second ticket in a year is supposed to cost $300 and later tickets $500, but Hicks escaped with the $200 charge since he received all of the tickets before he was proven guilty of any of them. After the Sept. 9 trial, Hicks said he will appeal.
A looming danger is that the convictions could threaten his liquor license. Hicks has said he'd fight the liquor board, too, if need be.
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