The high point of the Oct. 6, 2005 Liquor Control Adjudication Board hearing wasn’t actually the end, when Wailuku’s Club Starlite got fined $3,000 for letting the manager drink and fall asleep in her own establishment, but rather the point about halfway through when everyone started talking about Miranda Rights.
When the LC investigates possible liquor law violations, they never inform witnesses of their right to keep silent. These aren’t criminal cases, they reason, so there’s never a need to invoke Miranda.
“It’s an interview, not an interrogation,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Angela Hedge said during the hearing. “These individuals are free to decline to speak.”
But do they know that? As Adjudication Board member Lance Collins pointed out during the Oct. 6 hearing, it’s very easy for employees to view such “interviews” as “coercive situations”—times when they feel they must speak with LC investigators or risk trouble from their employers.
In addition, anyone found to have served alcohol to a minor faces criminal prosecution. That wasn’t the case with Club Starlite, but minor decoy sting operations are a big deal to the Maui LC. There’s at least the potentiality that statements made to LC investigators in such criminal cases could be admissible in court, though Hedge denied so at the hearing.
Club Starlite attorney Lawrence Ing also pointed out that LC investigators are part of law enforcement. Some, like LC investigator Pedro Gapero, whose testimony constituted the only evidence Hedge brought against Club Starlite, are former police officers.
In any case, “constitutional issues” weren’t something Board Chairman Shigeto “Mustard” Murayama wanted to get into.
“Let’s not get tied up with technicalities,” he said. And that was the end of that.