Friday, September 03, 2010

Lure hearing ends; Judge to consider testimony regarding downtown St. Louis nightclub's liquor license

From "ST. LOUIS - The owners and attorneys of Lure Nightclub - the last of three downtown clubs once targeted by the city - defended themselves today against city allegations that the club attracts violent behavior and allows drunken, lewd and harassing acts by patrons or staff.

Municipal Judge Margaret Walsh presided over the Excise Commission hearing. Walsh could suspend Lure's liquor license, revoke, or even shut Lure down.

Assistant City Counselor Dan Emerson represented the Excise Commission, and tried to tie a string of downtown incidents to the Washington Avenue club. He called police officers to testify that bar patrons stopped traffic, brawled in the street, exposed themselves and even shot an assault rifle at officers.

Lure attorneys John Bouhasin and former Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr., on the other hand, forced officers to admit, time and again, that they did not actually see the suspects leaving Lure before the officers witnessed the events.

Emerson even withdrew one of the five charges - that a November 5 shooting was tied to the club. Lure, said Bouhasin and Bosley, was not open that night.

And that withdrawal, Bosley told the judge, underscored the mistreatment Lure has received. The charges, he said, were "unfounded," and based on "innuendo."

"Where do the owners of Lure go to get their good name back?" he asked Walsh. "This has cost our clients an extremely large amount of money."

There were, however, some lighter moments in the nearly five hours of testimony.

At one point, Bouhasin was cross-examining police officer Kathleen Kueck, who said she witnessed patrons leaving Lure and exposing themselves as they walked down Washington Avenue.

"Like they would at Mardi Gras?" asked Bouhasin, eliciting smiles from the audience.

"I'm not sure," said Kueck. "I've never worked Mardi Gras."

"Have you ever enjoyed Mardi Gras?" asked Bouhasin.

"Objection!" said Emerson.

"I'll withdraw the question," said Bouhasin.

By the end, Lure owner Aprille Trupiano and her brother Nick Trupiano, who co-manages the bar, said they felt their attorneys represented their side well.

"They dismissed a charge already, a charge that had nothing to do with us," said Nick. "And that shows the prejudice of the case."

Emerson wouldn't comment on the proceedings.

The hearing ended at about 4 p.m. Judge Walsh asked attorneys to submit their best arguments to her by a week from Monday. She said she'd rule soon after that.

A separate protest petition mounted by residents also hoping to close the club will get a hearing after that, she said.