STEVEN KOUGL, ET AL.
THE BOARD OF LIQUOR LICENSE COMMISSIONERS FOR BALTIMORE CITY
Woodward, Graeff, Arthur, JJ.
eagle suffers little birds to sing, And is not careful what
they mean thereby, Knowing that with the shadow of his wings
He can at pleasure stint their melody[.]
Titus Andronicus, Act 4, Scene 4 (W. Shakespeare)
instant case, we are called upon to decipher the meaning of
the word "suffer, " and its analogs,
"permit" and "allow." Specifically, we
must decide whether these terms, when used in rules governing
the conduct of holders of a liquor license in Baltimore City,
require proof of knowledge on the part of such licensees.
Steven Kougl, owns Club Harem, a Baltimore tavern and adult
entertainment business, and holds a liquor license for that
location issued by appellee, the Board of Liquor License
Commissioners for Baltimore City ("the Liquor
Board"). On July 2, 2014, the Liquor Board charged Kougl
with violating three Liquor Board Rules related to
solicitation of prostitution, indecent exposure, and
violation of public morals, all occurring on April 25, 2013,
at Club Harem, when an employee exposed herself to an
undercover police officer and then solicited sexual
intercourse from the same officer. The Liquor Board found
Kougl guilty of all three violations and ordered that his
liquor license be suspended for one month. Kougl filed for
judicial review in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City,
which affirmed the decision of the Liquor Board.
appeal to this Court, Kougl raises four questions for our
review, which we have condensed and rephrased as two
1. Did the Liquor Board make sufficient findings of fact in
support of the three charged violations of the Liquor Board
2. Did the Liquor Board err in concluding that Kougl was
guilty of the three violations even though there was no
evidence that Kougl had knowledge of his employee's
reasons set forth herein, we answer both questions in the
affirmative, and thus reverse the judgment of the circuit
court and remand the case to that court for entry of a
judgment reversing the decision of the Liquor Board.
April 25, 2013, Detective Fletcher Jackson, a Baltimore City
police officer assigned to the Special Enforcement Section,
entered Club Harem in plain clothes to conduct a prostitution
investigation. Jamaica Brickhouse, a woman who worked at Club
Harem, approached Det. Jackson at the bar and asked if she
could join him. Det. Jackson said "sure, " and
bought Brickhouse a drink. After some initial conversation,
Brickhouse exposed her breasts to Det. Jackson. Brickhouse
invited Det. Jackson to touch her breasts, which he did.
Brickhouse then suggested a lap dance or a trip to "the
VIP, " where they could "do whatever up
there." Det. Jackson asked how much it would cost him to
have sex with Brickhouse; Brickhouse replied that it would
cost $170 "for the room, " plus a tip for her
services. Det. Jackson said that he could tip $100, and
Brickhouse agreed. Brickhouse returned to the stage to
perform, and Det. Jackson notified other officers.
Brickhouse, however, was not issued a criminal summons until
December 10, 2013, almost eight months later.
months after the incident, on July 2, 2014, the Liquor Board
charged Kougl with violating three Liquor Board Rules related
to solicitation of prostitution in violation of Rule 4.17(a),
indecent exposure in violation of Rule 4.17(b), and violation
of public morals in violation of Rule 4.18. On July 17, 2014,
the Liquor Board held a hearing on the charges against Kougl.
Det. Jackson was the only witness for the prosecution; Kougl
testified in his own defense. The Liquor Board voted 2-1 that
Kougl was guilty of the three violations and suspended his
liquor license for one month.
18, 2014, Kougl filed a Petition for Judicial Review in the
circuit court. On March 2, 2015, Kougl filed his Memorandum,
in which he argued that (1) the Liquor Board's decision
was not based on substantial evidence, because "[t]here
[wa]s nothing in [Det. Jackson's] testimony to indicate
that the [l]icensee knew, allowed or permitted this type of
activity, which is needed to sustain the violations";
(2) its decision was unreasonable and arbitrary, because the
Chairman of the Liquor Board stated that a licensee
"would be responsible for actions of an employee"
regardless of "whether the [l]icensee knew or did not
know or allowed or did not allow or permitted or did not
permit" the prohibited activity; and (3) the Liquor
Board failed to make specific findings of fact and
conclusions of law as required. On April 15, 2015, the Liquor
Board filed its Response to Kougl's ...