Friday, December 5, 2008

Haw. SCT Vacates ICA Decision in E & J Lounge Operating Co. v. Liquor Comm’n of the City & County of Honolulu

This case started with the Application for Liquor License by the Petitioner to the Commission for a General Dispenser License.  

[W]e vacate the ICA's judgment, affirm the court's decision and order . . . and remand the case to the court with instructions to (1) vacate the Commission's decision and order and (2) remand the application to the Commission for decision-making in compliance with the court's order and this opinion, specifically, (a) to determine whether the notices sent by Petitioner complied with HRS § 281-57 and, if so, (b) to rule on the application after all voting commissioners have reviewed the entire agency record in accordance with HRS § 91-11.
The court held:
We hold that (1) public hearings on liquor license applications held by the liquor commission are contested case hearings such that Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) § 91-11 (1993) requires any commissioner who is not present at any stage of the public hearing to become familiar with the record before voting on a liquor license application, unless the application is automatically rejected pursuant to HRS § 281-59(a) (2007), (2) Respondent/Appellee-Appellant/Cross-Appellee Liquor Commission of the City & County of Honolulu (the Commission) did not comply with HRS § 91-11 in this case, (3) HRS § 91-13.5 (Supp. 2004) does not require automatic approval of Petitioner's liquor license application, and (4) the court's finding, that it is unclear from the present state of the record whether the Commission complied with the notice requirements of HRS § 281-57 (Supp. 2006), because it was not challenged on secondary appeal to the ICA or this court, is affirmed. 

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