Lance Collins has barely sat on the Maui County Liquor Control Board of Adjudication for six months, and he already wants a new table. Sound silly? Actually, the way things are arranged now, he should get one.
Currently the nine adjudication board members sit at the base of a U-shaped table facing a much smaller table where the liquor licensee facing a complaint sits. From the licensee’s point of view, the board secretary and court stenographer sit on the right of the U, the corporation counsel attorney sits at the center next to the board chairman and the deputy prosecuting attorney sits on the left arm of the table, flanked on either side by the LC director and his chief of investigations.
From the licensee’s point of view, Collins pointed out in a Dec. 21, 2005 letter to Liquor Commission Chairman Donald Fujii, the prosecutor accusing the licensee of committing a crime and the Board of Adjudication ruling on that accusation are one and the same. To say the least, such an arrangement is disorienting—if indeed the Adjudication Board makes its decisions completely independent of the Liquor Control department.
“It would be highly irregular and perhaps even prejudicial to the Department if the licensee-respondent and its representatives, who are also parties to the contested case, were permitted to sit [at] the Board table during [an] adjudicatory hearing,” Collins wrote in his letter. “Yet, the custom and practice of the Board has been to permit the Department to do so. This is highly irregular in terms of impartiality and is somewhat prejudicial to the non-Department party to the contested case.”
Collins’ solution is simply to seat the LC director and deputy prosecuting attorney at a separate table—perhaps similar to the table where the licensee has to sit now—“to demonstrate that both parties are being treated in a similar and fair manner.”
LC Director Franklyn Silva has said many times that his department goes out of his way to be fair to liquor licensees. Here’s an excellent chance to show that fairness.