In the last two years, the Maui County Liquor Control Board of Adjudication has found exactly zero licensees hauled before them “not guilty.” That’s quite a record for the county prosecutor’s office. Too bad for them it ended dramatically during the board’s Dec. 1, 2005 hearing.
Up on three counts related to over-serving a customer during one of its Dollar Nights back in February, things looked mighty bad for Moose McGillycuddy’s of Lahaina. Most establishments would just plead guilty or no contest, accept a few grand in fines and cut their losses—a practice the LC doesn’t exactly discourage.
Moose’s went the other way and hired defense attorney Dave Jorgensen from Ing, Horikawa and Jorgensen (they represent a sizeable portion of licensees who find themselves in the LC’s sights). The trial—and I use that term loosely—lasted five hours.
Prosecutor Andrew Martin’s case looked straightforward: police arrested a very intoxicated Edilberto Larrobis in the early morning hours of Feb. 16, after he got into an extremely minor traffic accident in the parking lot out front of House of Saimin. He was so drunk, police later said, that they couldn’t administer any field sobriety tests or determine his blood alcohol level (Larrobis later pled guilty to a DUI charge). A few days later, LC investigator John McMurray interviewed Larrobis, who said he’d gotten drunk at Moose’s.
As Jorgensen showed, Moose’s numerous security staff had tagged Larrobis as a potential problem early on. They watched him for hours, and when they realized he was “having too much fun,” they bounced him. He tried getting back in twice, but they refused him both times. Moose’s staff offered to pay for a cab ride home for him and his friend, but they said they were walking.
It didn’t help the prosecutor’s case that McMurray was at Moose’s for 40 minutes on the night in question—from 11:35 p.m. to 12:15 a.m.—and testified that he never saw anything amiss. In fact, Jorgensen’s whole point was that Martin never put forward any evidence that Larrobis was drunk when he was actually at Moose’s.
The board agreed, and found Moose’s not guilty of all counts. “The standards you put into your club are exemplary,” said board member Marilyn Chapman after the verdict. “If more clubs would follow these procedures, we would all benefit from this.” The test will be how much time LC investigators like McMurray spend in Moose’s now.