Lawyer for bar gets busy on revocation case

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By Damon Lawrence

The attorney representing Grill & Pub owner Grover Norton has issued a warning to county officials about Monday’s meeting of the Roane County Beer Board.

The purpose of the meeting is to hear a petition the county filed to revoke Norton’s beer permit.

“In the event the beer board acts precipitously and revokes my client’s permit, he will exercise all remedies available to him at law and equity,” Knoxville attorney Greg Isaacs wrote to County Attorney Tom McFarland.  

The petition was filed less than two weeks after David Harvey, a 46-year-old Harriman man, was found dead outside the Grill & Pub.

Harriman resident Eric Gallaher has been charged with reckless homicide in Harvey’s death.

He allegedly punched Harvey in the head after a fender bender in the parking lot.

After Harvey’s death, Norton vowed to crack down on people who cause trouble at the bar.

According to the county, the homicide case is one in a long line of incidents that have occurred at Norton’s establishment on Hwy. 61 north of Harriman.

“Law enforcement has recently responded to various criminal activity regarding the subject premises,” the county’s petition states. “In the last several months, there have been voluminous 911 calls regarding violence, drug activity, and/or other criminal acts at the above referenced premises.”

Isaacs said he sent investigators to Roane County to look into the allegations.   

“My firm’s preliminary investigation has revealed that some of the incidents being referenced may have occurred as early as 2002 or 2003,” his letter to McFarland said. “Additionally, it is impossible to address the ‘voluminous 911 calls’ regarding complaints at my client’s business without more specificity as to time, place and origination.”

Isaacs has filed a public records request asking Commissioners Copper Bacon, Chris Johnson, Randy Ellis, Steve Kelley and Nick Forrester, Sheriff Jack Stockton and deputy county clerk Bobbie Tipton to provide copies of any records they have regarding Norton or the Grill & Pub.

Isaacs has also asked the county to provide, “copies of any warrants, indictments, police reports, investigate memoranda, police dispatch calls, 911 calls, records of any and all other documents” that relate to Norton or the Grill & Pub.

“Since the petition does not contain any names or other identifying information, it would be impossible for my office or my investigators to obtain any of this information as set forth in the petition,” Isaacs wrote. “Additionally, if my client is not provided this information regarding the factual basis for the petition, he will be denied substantive and procedural due process as it relates to this Aug. 15 special-called meeting.”

With the hearing set for Monday, Isaacs said time is of the essence in complying with the records requests.

McFarland said the county would make an effort to do so.

“I think they made a request they were entitled to under the law, and we’re going to do our best to comply with it,” he said.  

Isaacs also directed McFarland to a March 2010 appellate court opinion involving a beer permit holder in Nashville.

In that case, the Nashville Beer Board determined the permit holder allowed illegal drugs to be sold on his premises and revoked his license to sell beer.

That decision was overturned in Davidson County Chancery Court and upheld by the Court of Appeals.

Both courts determined the Nashville Beer Board did not carry its burden of proving the permit holder allowed drugs to be brought onto his premises or that he allowed illegal activity on his premises.

Despite the lengthy records requests and Isaacs’ warning, McFarland said the beer board meeting will still take place as scheduled.

“It’s still on for Monday,” he said.

It is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. at the Roane County Courthouse in Kingston.