Thursday, February 7, 2008
Court finds Bossman’s a nuisance
By SUE WATSON
Bossman’s Barbecue is officially closed. The case that has lingered on the court dockets for nearly nine months was heard last week in circuit court before Judge Henry Lackey.
In presenting a summary of the findings, the court revoked James Milan’s license to serve beer and declared his establishment on Jamison Road a public nuisance.
In his remarks, Lackey said Milan had been on notice since April 2007 when the lawsuit was filed and had plenty of time to set matters straight.
“If he (Milan) intended to clean up his act and to abide by the law, he has had almost a year to do that,” Lackey said. “But it seems the problems have accelerated with the shooting of an 18-year-old outside the barbecue place, then we have one fellow who lost his life in the establishment (January 20 of this year). There’s no question in the court’s mind there is illegal liquor (hard liquor) being sold and certainly no question there’s illegal gambling.”
In stronger words, Lackey said the operations at the club “make a mockery of our law,” that the barbecue place has a “gambling room.” And the security personnel there were carrying weapons. “That’s a dangerous situation, particularly when alcohol is being served,” he said.
People had complained about problems at the club.
“Mr. Milan knew about it and apparently he did not take the necessary steps,” Lackey said. “The court has no choice but to agree with the motion (before the court) to find it (the club) a nuisance.
“Sheriff Dickerson and his staff do not have time to babysit or oversee to assure his establishment is in compliance with the law and neither does this court.”
Lackey’s order and declaration followed two half-days of testimony in which the plaintiffs (Marshall County Board of Supervisors and the District Attorney’s office) called 12 witnesses and the defense called four.
Witnesses for the plaintiffs testified hard liquor was bootlegged at the club, that a “gambling room” (dice table) was in operation there, that there was underage drinking, that marijuana smoke was present on the premises at times, that shots were heard in the vicinity of the club, that sometimes arguments broke out there, and that the club produced excessive noise and patrons partially blocked the road at times with their vehicles.
Witnesses stated that there had been a shooting at the club in September. A man was clobbered over the head with a beer bottle in December.
Then three people were shot, one lethally, on January 20, inside the club. The owner, James Milan was shot and his son, Rodrick, was shot and paralyzed, witnesses said.
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson testified the board of supervisors executed a license for beer to be sold at the establishment in the fall of 2006, and that soon afterward problems were being reported to his department and affidavits signed.
The complaints included that alcohol was being sold to minors, loud music was a disturbance to the neighborhood, that disorderly conduct took place at the club and illegal gambling was taking place.
He said the vast majority of complaints came from older people reluctant to come forward and testify in court.
Milan’s attorney, Collier Carlton, called four witnesses for the defense, Anthony Warren Fleming Sr. of Memphis, who described what the saw at the January 20 shooting at the club.
On prior visits he never heard shots fired, saw the road blocked, any gambling or underage drinking, sale of hard liquor or marijuana use, he said.
Fleming said he did not think the place was a nuisance or unsafe.
“You have bad people wherever you go,” he said. “To me his (Curtis Montreal Davis’, the deceased) mind was made up. That was his goal to come in there ...(and shoot someone).”
Fleming testified he had placed small bets on dice.
Another defense witness, James Walker Jr., of Chulahoma, testified like Fleming that the club was safe when he was there and he saw no fights or arguments or sale of hard liquor.
On cross examination, Walker said he had shot dice at the club and also had cooked for Milan.
Lee E. Falkner, a Jamison Road resident called by the defense, testified he did not believe the club to be a nuisance. He had heard shots fired outside the area, seen the road partly blocked at times and knew of some after-hours gambling for money. The club did ask for identification cards and the owner had tried to stop patrons from bringing marijuana. He had seen two fistfights.
It was the deceased, Curtis Montreal Davis, who hit him in the head with a beer bottle without any provocation, he said.
Attorney for the plaintiffs, Kent Smith called the last witness, James Milan.
Milan denied selling bootlegged liquor and said he had a valid license to serve food.
Smith then presented evidence - a letter to Milan from the Health Department - saying Milan had no license to serve food.
He testified there was no security at the club at times, that marijuana smoking was not allowed at the club, and that he neigher sold or had any half-pint whiskey at the club.
Smith asked Milan about the dice shooting for money.
“It’s true,” said Milan.
In summary remarks, Smith cited the testimony of illegal gambling, of the illegal sale of hard liquor, and the shootings at the establishment as good reasons for declaring the club a nuisance to the community.
Pointing at Milan, he said, “That man’s son got shot and probably will suffer the rest of his life and he’s up here acting like his club is not a danger to that community.”
In summary statements, defense attorney Carlton, suggested the court had several options at its disposal: revoke Milan’s beer license, suspend his license for a time or to require Milan post bond to abate nuisance.
He said the January 20 shooting was spurred on by a person who came out there to cause trouble.
“He (Curtis Montreal Davis) is the one who came in there cowboy-style and shoots Mr. Milan’s son and Mr. Milan himself,” Carlton said.
“Mr. Milan admits to shooting small dice. People want to complain anonymously but with no real evidence of loud music. We had two people who testified it is safe and who had no objections. We feel the court should consider bond or a temporary suspension of license.”
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