Delaying the Delay
You watch enough Liquor Control Adjudication Board hearings, and you start thinking you can anticipate how each member will act. It’s a delusion, of course—just because you pay attention to what’s being said, it doesn’t mean the members do.
Case in point was the Alii Nui Charters matter that came up during the July 6, 2006 hearing. Up on two counts related to alleged over-service, the case was delayed from the Dec. 1, 2005 hearing when company attorney Richard Lesser mumbled something about confusion involving a possible plea agreement and asked for another delay.
Normally the prosecution recoils at such requests, but today Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Temas told the board he had no problem with delaying the case because he had long ago told his potential witnesses they didn’t need to show. If the board went ahead with Lesser pleading not guilty, Temas would be in trouble.
“The State is at a disadvantage,” he told the board.
Okay, I thought, done deal. The board has sternly lectured defense attorneys before when they asked for delays, but rarely denies a delay request from the prosecution.
But then acting chairwoman Marilyn Chapman asked for a vote approving the delay. It failed. Stunned, I listened to board members Donald Fujii and M.D. Alborano—both solid supporters of the department—talk about the horrors of “wasting the board’s time” and how it was best to “settle it today.”
Finally Temas could take no more, and reiterated his earlier point. “Minutes before I arrived here I got a telephone call,” he said, explaining how Lesser’s delay request came at the last second and that if they proceeded, he would have to try the case without the police officer and LC officer witnesses he needed. “How can I now fairly present my case before the board?” he asked.
It was as if a light was switched on in Fujii’s and Alborano’s heads. They smiled and even apologized to Temas. Minutes later they voted for the delay, and returned balance to the LC universe.