The city of Beaver Dam denied making errors in the process it used to investigate and eventually suspend the liquor license of a bar.
Amanda Hammen, the owner of Johnny’s Lounge, is challenging the Common Council’s decision to suspend the bar’s license for 15 days.
When the council made that decision Jan. 21, her lawyer, Brent Eisberner, filed an appeal in Dodge County Circuit Court and said he also planned to file a federal lawsuit about the city’s demerit point system.
The council voted to suspend the license following a full hearing process under the city’s demerit ordinance. Under that ordinance, the Beaver Dam Police Department investigates infractions and can assign demerit points to a business that holds a liquor license. Receiving more than 200 points in 18 months can trigger a recommendation for penalties such as liquor license suspension or revocation. and Johnny’s received 380 for incidents in October 2017 and June 2018.
In the incident from 2017, a woman was accused of serving her boyfriend while he was under a no-alcohol order. She was found guilty in court after pleading no contest. In the June 2018 incident, police accused a man of starting a fight that caused injuries, with no one from the bar calling police. That man received a municipal citation for battery, but was never criminally charged.
The demerit points assigned to the bar over the two incidents triggered the hearing process.
In the appeal, Johnny’s Lounge accuses the city of making parliamentary errors with the way it moved forward with the hearing process that should invalidate it, which the city denies. The appeal also accuses city representatives and officials of having a clear bias against the bar, and states that the business owner was not able to properly present evidence of unequal treatment by the police of another bar on Madison Street, which the city also denies.
The suspension of the Johnny’s license will not go into effect while the case continues through the court system. A telephone scheduling conference is set for April 2.
A Dec. 26 incident left Johnny’s Lounge with more demerit points after police alleged an underage woman was on the premises and got involved in a fight. The 20-year-old woman was charged with battery. The council’s administrative committee has yet to receive an update about what will happen as a result of that incident.