Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Resolution of Woody's red tag postponed till January

(H/T Sheryl Kornman of the Tucson Citizen.)

ity Court Judge Jeffrey Zlatow delayed a decision on a dispute between Woody's Bar and neighboring apartments on North Oracle Road on Wednesday.

The bar was given a "red tag" in November by police. It bans premises cited for an "unruly gathering" from further "unruly" gatherings for 180 days. Penalties include fines up to $1,500.

The city's "red tag" ordinance also requires all respondents in a case to be heard at the same time.

In the case of Woody's, a bartender, Jeffrey Fulgham, also was given a civil citation for "unruly behavior" by Tucson police during a wine-tasting event at the bar, 3710 N. Oracle Road. The noise complaint was called in by the manager of a neighboring apartment complex, Laurence Court, 3730 N. Oracle Road.

Fulgham, who came on duty after the wine tasting was under way, was cited on Nov. 17 for an "unruly gathering" at the bar.

A City Court judge hearing the bartender's case ruled against the bartender, prejudicing the red tag case against the bar owner, said the bar's attorney James L. Gjurgevich.

Zlatow agreed.

He also agreed to Gjurgevich's request to ask the City Court judge in the bartender's case to vacate his ruling so both cases could be heard in Zlatow's court on the same day.

Assistant City Attorney Alan Merritt told the judge he agreed with Gjurgevich that the city should have tried both cases together. He supported the request for a postponement of the red tag case and for a new hearing date.

In an unusual move, Zlatow stopped the proceeding to contact his colleague, who agreed to vacate the finding.

A new hearing date for Fulgham and the bar was set for Jan. 29.

Zlatow said Friday that the red tag issued Nov. 17 to Woody's Bar must remain covered until Woody's protest of the citation is heard.

More than 30 patrons of the bar filled the small courtroom in support of Woody's.

Larry Cunningham, 61, a Woody's regular, told a reporter he was at the bar when police cited the bartender and the bar.

He said there was no loud music or yelling and that police never entered the bar to observe the situation for themselves when they arrived at 9 p.m.

Police were responding to a complaint from apartment manager Linda Howeth, who lives next door.

She told a reporter outside the hearing Friday that the bar plays "horrible, loud music" and she hears "screaming and yelling" that disturbs the 50 or so tenants in the apartments. One resident is 90, she said.

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