South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
Stanley Curenton, d/b/a Corner Pocket vs. SCDOR

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Revenue

PARTIES:
Petitioners:
Stanley Curenton, d/b/a Corner Pocket

Respondents:
South Carolina Department of Revenue
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
97-ALJ-17-0271-CC

APPEARANCES:
Stanley Curenton, pro se, for Petitioner

Arlene D. Hand, Esq., for Respondent, Excused from Appearance

Gerald L. Brooks and Joy Clinton, Protestants
 

ORDERS:

ORDER

I. Statement of the Case


The Petitioner, Stanley Curenton, d/b/a Corner Pocket (Curenton) of Greenwood, South Carolina, filed with the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR), the Respondent, an application for an on-premises beer and wine permit for 606 Seaboard Ave., Greenwood, South Carolina. Gerald L. Brooks and Joy Clinton filed protests seeking to prevent DOR from granting the permit. Regulations require a hearing with jurisdiction in the Administrative Law Judge Division (ALJD) under S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-600(B) and 1-23-310 (Supp. 1996). See 23 S.C. Code Regs. 7-90 (Supp. 1996). The relevant factors require denying the permit.

II. Issue


Does Curenton meet the statutory requirements for a beer and wine permit?

III. Analysis

1. Positions of Parties:

Curenton asserts he meets the statutory requirements. DOR states that since a protest prevents the granting of a permit until a hearing is held, DOR awaits the outcome of that hearing. The protestants assert two grounds for the denial. First, the proposed location is not proper and second the applicant and his partner are not of good moral character.





2. Findings of Fact:

I find, by a preponderance of the evidence, the following facts:

a. General

1. On or about January 22, 1997, Curenton filed an application with the Department of Revenue for an on-premises beer and wine permit.

2. The application is identified by DOR as AI # 112756.

3. The proposed business location and the place where the beer and wine permit will be utilized is 606 Seaboard Ave., Greenwood, South Carolina.

4. The business will operate as a game room.

5. Protests to the application were filed by Gerald L. Brooks, Chief of Police for the City of Greenwood, and Joy Clinton, a concerned citizen.

6. Except for the unresolved dispute, DOR would have issued the permit.

7. The hearing was held on August 28, 1997, with notice of the date, time, place and subject matter of the hearing given to the applicant, DOR, and the protestants.

b. Moral Character

8. The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigated the applicant's criminal background and the criminal background of the applicant's partner, Tony R. Leake.

9. The SLED report revealed several criminal violations.

10. On November 17, 1994, Curenton was convicted of violating the open container law applicable to alcohol and of simple possession of marijuana.

11. Curenton is married with a family.

12. Curenton had been honorably discharged from the United States Marines.

13. Curenton has had no criminal violations since 1994.

14. Tony R. Leake (Leake) is a partner of Curenton.

15. During 1984 Leake was convicted of simple possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and of being a minor in possession of beer.

16. In 1984 Leake was 17 years old.

17. In 1988 Leake was convicted of simple possession of marijuana.

18. In 1988 Leake was 21 years old.

19. In 1994 Leake was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in the suspension of his driver's license.

20. Curenton's actions and conduct do not demonstrate a lack of good moral character.

21. Leake's actions and conduct demonstrate a lack of good moral character.

c. Legal Resident and Principal Place of Abode

22. Curenton has resided in South Carolina since 1993.

23. Curenton holds a valid South Carolina driver's license.

24. Curenton currently resides at 1001 Northlake Drive, Greenwood, South Carolina, and resided in South Carolina for more than 30 days prior to filing the application for a beer and wine permit.

25. Curenton is a legal resident of the United States and South Carolina, has held such status for more than 30 days prior to the application, and has held a principal place of abode in South Carolina for more than 30 days prior to filing the application.

d. Prior Revocation Of Beer or Wine Permit

26. Curenton has never had a beer and wine permit revoked.

e. Age

27. Curenton's date of birth is November 17, 1960.

28. Curenton is over twenty-one years of age.

f. Proposed Location

29. The proposed location was operated as Jake's Place by a prior owner from 1987 through 1995.

30. During that period one violation of the liquor laws was charged against the former owner.

31. During that period the proposed location had more calls for police assistance from the City of Greenwood than any other location within the City's jurisdiction.

32. The Chief of Police had begun steps seeking to have the proposed location closed by a declaration of public nuisance.

33. The proceeding seeking a declaration of a public nuisance was not completed since the location voluntarily ceased operating.

34. The new owners will operate at the same location as the former owners and will conduct a similar business.

35. The proposed location will operate as a game room with recorded music, pool tables, video games and the sale of food snacks such as crackers and chips.

36. The days and hours of operation will be Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until midnight except for Friday closings of 2:00 a.m.

37. The area of the proposed location is substantially commercial with some residences in the vicinity.

g. Notice

38. Notice of the Curenton application was published in The Index-Journal, a newspaper published and distributed in Greenwood County, with notice published on January 23, 30, and February 6, 1997.

39. Notice of the Curenton application appeared at least once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper most likely to give notice to interested citizens.

40. Curenton gave notice to the public by displaying a sign for fifteen days at the proposed business.

41. Curenton gave notice of the application by the required advertising by newspaper and display of signs.

3. Discussion

a. Introduction

The applicant satisfies the requirements of being a legal resident of South Carolina for 30 days, having a principal place of abode in South Carolina for 30 days prior to filing the application, not having had a beer or wine permit revoked within two years of the date of the current application, being at least twenty-one years of age, and providing proper notice of the application by way of newspaper and the display of signs. The matters disputed are whether the applicant and his partner have good moral character and whether the proposed location is proper.

b. Moral Character

In South Carolina, no single criterion determines whether one possesses good moral character. 1969 Op. S.C. Att'y. Gen. No. 2709 at 159. Generally, good moral character means that one should possess all elements essential to make up that character, such as honesty and veracity . Id.; See also Zemour, Inc. v. State Division of Beverage, 347 So.2d 1102 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1977); Broers v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, 773 P.2d 320 (Mont. 1989). Such is especially true in matters of license issuance by the State since such a license is generally granted to individuals who will hold positions of trust and confidence. See S.C. State Board of Dental Examiners v. Breeland, 208 S.C. 469, 38 S.E.2d 644 (1978).

A lack of good moral character is strongly indicated by an applicant who has committed crimes of moral turpitude since such acts are antithetical to what is considered good moral character. 1989 Op. S.C. Att'y. Gen. No. 89-89. Moreover, acts of moral turpitude imply the absence of good moral character. Id. Moral turpitude is "an act of baseness, evilness, or depravity in the private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man or society in general, contrary to the customary and accepted rule of right and duty between man and man." State v. Perry, 294 S.C. 311, 364 S.E.2d 201 (1988). In addition, not only are acts of moral turpitude relevant, but also the presence of a significant criminal record indicates an unsuitable applicant, especially where the criminal record involves liquor laws. Wall v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm'n, 269 S.C. 13, 235 S.E.2d 806 (1977).

Here, the record presents a very close case as to Curenton. While Curenton was convicted in 1994 of violating the open container law applicable to alcohol and of having simple possession of marijuana, neither is a crime of moral turpitude, and neither establish a lack of good moral character. State v. Hall, 306 SC. 293, 411 S.E.2d 441 (Ct. App. 1991) (driving under the influence is not a crime of moral turpitude); State v. Lilly, 278 S.C. 499, 299 S.E.2d. 329 (1983) (simple possession of marijuana is not a crime of moral turpitude). Likewise, while the open container violation is a liquor law violation, the violation is not one involving the excessive consumption of alcohol found instructive in Wall, supra.

In the absence of crimes of moral turpitude, other factors demonstrate Curenton has good moral character. For example, he has been honorably discharged from the Marines, successfully operates a construction business in which he supervises fifteen employees, has had no convictions or arrests since 1994, and is a family man with two children. Based upon the record as a whole, Curenton meets the good moral character needed for a beer and wine permit.

Tony R. Leake (Leake), a partner of Curenton, however, presents a different conclusion. Again, his criminal violations by themselves are not enough to establish crimes of moral turpitude and correspondingly do not establish a lack of good moral character. State v. Lilly, 278 S.C. 499, 299 S.E.2d. 329 (1983) (simple possession of marijuana is not a crime of moral turpitude); Op. of Att'y Gen. 2-12-91 (non-violent resisting of arrest is not a crime of moral turpitude); State v. LaBarge, 275 S.C. 168, 268 S.E.2d 278 (1980) (disorderly conduct is not a crime of moral turpitude); State v. Hall, 306 SC. 293, 411 S.E.2d 441 (Ct. App. 1991) and Op. Att'y Gen. 8-13-84 (driving under the influence for either first or third offense is not a crime of moral turpitude). However, Leake's most recent conviction in 1994 for driving under the influence of alcohol demonstrates Leake does not possess the required character. Under Wall, supra. the presence of a significant criminal record indicates an unsuitable applicant especially where the criminal record involves liquor laws. Here, Leake is seeking to be a partner in a business selling beer and wine when Leake has already demonstrated an inability to act responsibly with alcohol. Accordingly, Leake may not be associated as a partner with the applicant.

c. Proper Location

Under S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-520(6) (Supp. 1996), no beer and wine permit may be granted unless the proposed location is a proper location. In general, consideration may be given to any factors that demonstrate the adverse effect the proposed location will have on the community. Palmer v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984). Geography alone is not the sole suitability consideration, but rather any impact on the community must be considered. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (1985).

In the instant case, law enforcement considerations warrant denying the permit at this location. Fowler v. Lewis, 260 S.C. 54, 194 S.E.2d 191 (1973). The evidence demonstrates the proposed location is a high crime area. During prior periods the proposed location had more calls for police assistance from the City of Greenwood than any other location within the City's jurisdiction. The Chief of Police had begun steps seeking to have the proposed location closed by a declaration of public nuisance. While the new owners do not intend to create a problem for law enforcement, the record establishes that the new owners will operate at the same location as the former owners and will conduct a similar business. Under such circumstances, the former patrons are likely to patronize the new business and therefore create a setting potentially leading to the recreation of the prior problems. Under the circumstances of this case, the location is not a proper location.

4. Conclusions of Law

Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact and Discussion, I conclude the following as a matter of law:

1. No permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine may be issued unless the applicant, any partner or co-shareholder of the applicant, and each agent, employee, and servant of the applicant to be employed on the licensed premises are of good moral character. § 61-4-520(1) (Supp. 1996).

2. The applicant possesses good moral character. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(1) (Supp. 1996).

3. Leake, a partner of the applicant, does not possess good moral character. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(1) (Supp. 1996).

4. The applicant is a legal resident of the United States and has been a legal resident of South Carolina for 30 days prior to filing the application and has his principal place of abode in South Carolina. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(2) (Supp. 1996).

5. The applicant has not had a beer or wine permit revoked within two years of the date of the current application. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(4) (Supp. 1996).

6. The applicant is at least twenty-one years old. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(5) (Supp. 1996).

7. The presence of crime in the area and a need for significant law enforcement intervention warrants denying the permit at this location. Fowler v. Lewis, 260 S.C. 54, 194 S.E.2d 191 (1973).

8. Considering all relevant factors, the proposed location is not a proper location. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(6) (Supp. 1996).

9. The applicant gave proper notice of the application by way of newspaper and the display of signs. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(8) and (9) (Supp. 1996).

10. The applicant does not meet the requirements for the issuance of a beer and wine permit.

IV. ORDER


DOR is ordered to deny to Curenton an on-premises beer and wine permit at 606 Seaboard Avenue, Greenwood, South Carolina.









AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

__________________________________

RAY N. STEVENS

Administrative Law Judge

This 12th day of September, 1997

Columbia, South Carolina


Brown Bldg.

 

 

 

 

 

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