By Lauren Brant
Early Thursday morning, Lancaster County Judge Andrew Jacobsen allowed the four Whiteclay beer stores to renew their liquor licenses, and not just temporarily. Within the judge’s order, he nullified the Liquor Commission’s decision to close them, calling their verdict “void on its face.”
Within his report, Jacobsen stated the liquor commission’s decision was void for two reasons. The commission’s requirement for the stores to submit long-form applications violated the store owners’ renewal privilege, he said. His report also concluded that the Liquor Commission made it’s decision “to deny petitioners’ long-form applications on statutory factors which, as a matter of law, cannot be applied to current license holders.” Thus, the judge argued the store owners have a statutory right to a continuation of an existing license.
Alan Jacobsen, who has worked to close the beer stores in Whiteclay, said the decision is a temporary setback. “We would have liked to see the stay not granted, but ultimately I think we will prevail,” he said. He added that the decision will likely be appealed to the supreme court.
The stores still face 22 allegations of liquor law violations, like bootlegging.
The complete order filed by the judge is attached below.
On Wednesday, April 26 Lancaster County Judge Andrew Jacobsen set a hearing for 2 p.m. MST to determine whether or not to keep the four Whiteclay beer stores open during the liquor license appeals process.
Andrew Snyder, an attorney who represents the four beer stores, filed an appeal after the Liquor Commission’s decision not to issue license renewals for all four businesses. The crowd was scarce in the courtroom as the hearing got underway.
Judge Jacobsen heard arguments from Snyder who argued that the Liquor Commission’s decision not to renew the licenses was biased. He also argued that the store owners were not given due process after requiring the stores to fill out the long-form application.
Assistant Attorney General Milissa Johnson-Wiles testified as the legal counsel for the liquor commission. She argued that shutting down the stores “is not an irreparable injury.” She also stated that the four beer stores threaten public safety and health.
Judge Jacobsen took the information for the appeal under advisement. A decision can be expected as soon as Thursday, April 27.