Thursday, February 19, 2004
Marcus Williams dropped a $49 million federal lawsuit against the city, but said his quest for a liquor license is not finished.
Williams, who ran for the District II City Council seat in November and lost, withdrew his suit two weeks ago. Williams said he was considering reapplying for a liquor license for the Jazbote, a proposed jazz bar in Ski Time Square.
In the lawsuit filed in January, Williams said his civil rights were violated when the council denied him a liquor license on the basis of moral character.
"I was absolutely, 100 percent wronged in that decision," Williams said. "The reality is, I have every right to reapply. My option now is to pursue it through the state regulatory agency."
Williams said under Colorado liquor license law, he could not reapply if the council had denied his application based on the needs and desires of the community. But, he does have a right to reapply if his denial was because of bad moral character.
City Attorney Tony Lettunich announced the case's dismissal at Tuesday's City Council meeting and said Williams had been in contact with the city's Denver-based insurance lawyers when he decided to drop the suit.
Lettunich said Williams dropped the suit just before a judge could potentially rule for him to pay the city's cost to defend the suit. The city already had spent between $1,000 and $2,000 in legal fees on the case, Lettunich said.
One of the reasons Williams said he dropped the lawsuit was for the good of the community.
"I wanted to avoid a potential legal battle that could cost the city money, that could create bad vibes and negative feelings," Williams said.
Williams said he was considering filing a lawsuit against the city, for less than $49 million and based on the costs of one winter's worth of lost business and defamation of his character.
Williams said the city clerk's office made mistakes when he applied for a liquor license and after the city denied that license. Williams did not appeal the council's decision, which an applicant can do within 30 days.
In his complaint, Williams stated the City Council members "did use their positions to trap the plaintiff on a point of record and used a private executive session to slander and defame the plaintiff's good name and character, deny him a liquor license, his chosen business, and his ability to earn reward for his work and investment."
In his request for relief, Williams asked for $15 million for violating his civil rights, another $15 million for the violation of due process and $19 million for conspiracy in violating his civil rights.
The case stemmed from the council's Dec. 16 decision, acting as the Liquor Licensing Authority, to deny Williams' liquor license application. City Clerk Julie Jordan told the council that Williams had not disclosed a 2003 deferred judgment for driving while ability impaired and a 1996 conviction for the same charge on his liquor license application.
The council denied Williams' application, stating he did not exhibit good moral character because of a lack of truth in his application.
To approve a liquor license, the council has to find by law that there is no evidence indicating the applicant is not of good moral character.
In an "individual history" section of the application, one question asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime or received a suspended sentence, deferred sentence or forfeited bail for any offense in criminal or military court or do you have any charges pending?"
In that section, Williams had first marked yes and wrote, "nothing significant I can remember." He later crossed the wording out and marked no.