The LCwins again! In slightly less than one hour, Judge Joseph E. Cardoza dismissed the appeal by Maui Community College student Ramoda Anand and the Maui Dance Advocates of the Maui County Liquor Commission’s April 2006 decision not to change the county’s rules regarding dancing.
After listening to 40 minutes worth of arguments from Maui Dance Advocates attorney Lance Collins and Deputy Corporation Counsel Jane Lovell (representing the LC), Cardoza sided with Lovell’s argument that he had no jurisdiction to hear the case since the Liquor Commission’s hearing on dance rules wasn’t a “contested case.” There was no basis for an appeal, Cardoza said, and that was that.
So much for the legality of the matter. In practical terms, those who want to liberalize the LC’s ambiguous rules on dancing—enforced at the discretion of individual LC investigators (which could potentially violate a person’s right to due process, an attorney standing in the back of the courtroom whispered during the case)—have little recourse.
It’s clear the Liquor Commission will not alter their rules on dancing. They’ve made that perfectly clear. They don’t consider dancing to be, as Collins put it to Cardoza, “a form of expression that is protected by the First Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution].” They see it as mere “recreation,” as Lovell explained, subject to restrictions they’ve already deemed “reasonable.”
Now it’s still possible to get the dancing rules changed. One way would happen if an establishment licensed to sell alcohol in the County of Maui gets hit with a violation for allowing illegal dancing, and then challenges the rule. But another, perhaps easier—and more likely—recourse would be for a patron to just start dancing at an establishment. When asked to stop, the patron would then sue the County of Maui, alleging that the LC’s rules violated his or her civil rights.