TOMBSTONE — A Tombstone bar owner’s request to a judge that penalties recommended by the state be postponed until the saloon’s attorneys can present more evidence in their case has been denied.
In a four-page order signed Aug. 7, Cochise County Superior Judge Timothy Dickerson stated that the owners of Doc Holliday’s Saloon failed to establish four key elements that would have swayed him to rule in their favor.
The popular saloon is facing a temporary shutdown — beyond the one that is currently in place because of COVID-19 — and a $12,000 fine after investigators with the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control said four incidents involving guns and violence at the bar violated state liquor laws.
The offenses, according to a complaint by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, occurred between October 2017 and March 2018. Three of the incidents involved guns inside the establishment. In two of the four situations, someone was shot, and patrons were assaulted inside the bar in two of the instances, the complaint states.
As a result, the state wants to close Doc Holliday’s Saloon for 14 days and impose the fine for civil penalties on owner Noreen Carrafa. Additionally, investigators say the saloon should not reopen after the two weeks if the fine has not been paid.
Court documents detail each incident and state liquor investigators concluded that Doc Holliday’s management failed to “satisfactorily maintain the capability, qualifications and reliability requirements” of an applicant of a liquor license.
The state also charged that the bar’s owner failed to protect the safety of the customers and that employees allowed a “disorderly person to come into or remain on or about the premises.” State officials said management at Doc Holliday’s failed to call law enforcement after fights inside the bar left people injured.
But at a hearing in late June before Dickerson, the bar’s attorney Joel Borowiec said that the complaints filed by the state are “selective enforcement” because other establishments in the area have committed offenses and have not been sanctioned.
Additionally, Borowiec said a claim filed against the bar that management failed to protect its clientele is baseless, because bar management could not predict when violence would occur.
Borowiec told Dickerson in June that he had video evidence that would help Doc Holliday’s case. Michael Raine with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said videos were provided to the state, but they had no relevance to the incidents the state says occurred at the establishment.
Raine said the videos were geared more toward the theory that the state had gone after Doc Holliday’s Saloon because Tombstone officials have a longstanding beef with Mike Carrafa, husband of bar owner Noreen Carrafa.
In his ruling, Dickerson stated that in order for him to grant a stay, the saloon would have had to establish: A strong likelihood of success on the merits [of the case]; irreparable harm if the stay is not granted; that the harm to the requesting party [Doc Holliday’s] outweighs the harm to the party opposing the stay; and that public policy favors the granting of the stay.
“The court has considered each element and finds that a stay is not justified,” Dickerson wrote.
The judge pointed to three instances where Doc Holliday’s management “allowed individuals to possess firearms inside the bar.”
“...The irreparable harm caused by the closure is outweighed by the fact that the other three elements go against Doc Holliday’s,” Dickerson wrote. “Public policy does not favor a stay because public policy is served by allowing the Department [the state] to enforce its rules, especially where the violations go directly to public safety.”
Raine said Monday in an email that the next step in the matter is for “the parties to brief the merits of the appeal.” They have until Sept. 21 to do so.
In the meantime, the state could enforce its penalties against Doc Holliday’s Saloon.
“The stay was denied which means there is no order in place preventing the Department from enforcing its order,” Raine explained. “It is up to the Department to decide how to enforce its orders generally, and given the COVID shutdowns.”