What Are Your Rights? Local Bar Closure After Albany Shootings

Recorded on July 28, 2021

Following a rash of shootings, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan declared a state of emergency for the City of Albany, resulting in one local bar being shut down indefinitely. Both the mayor and the Chief of Police say this bar is linked to some of the recent violence in the city.

Managing Partner Paul Harding of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to help discuss the legality of this decision.

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Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Following a rash of shootings, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has declared a state of emergency for the City of Albany, resulting in one local bar being shut down indefinitely. Both the mayor and the Chief of Police say this bar is linked to some of the recent violence in the city. Here to help discuss this issue is Managing Partner Paul Harding, from the law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti.

So, Paul, we’re diving a little bit deeper into this topic. What basis did the mayor have for declaring a state of emergency?

Paul: So we saw this state of emergency is declared throughout the pandemic. Governor Cuomo was getting on and he was, kinda, doing these things. There was also a rumbling, “How long is he gonna have this power?” Well, you know, the mayor did this. She has till Tuesday. So she has a really short window. But what we have here is this. We’ve got a bar that they’re linking to shootings. They’re not giving us all the facts. I assume there’s a lot more there that we don’t know. And declaring a public nuisance is one thing, but in order to actually get the bar to be shut down without any further procedural stuff, she declared a state of emergency. And that’s the current state of Cafe Hollywood. It’s closed.

Interviewer: So the executive order resulted in this closure of a single Lark Street bar, Cafe Hollywood, as you mentioned. Why was this bar in particular targeted, and is there any sort of precedent for this type of action?

Paul: Yeah, so the piece of information they did give, they said there were 20 plus calls in three months, and that these calls were related to the shootings in some way. Now, the flip side of this is the shootings didn’t occur in the bar. They didn’t really occur in front of the bar, you know. So it is something where people are looking at saying, “Hey, is that a little overreaching?” We saw that with the Delaware grocery, right? That was back in 2020, they did the same thing. Hey, it’s a public nuisance declared by the police chief. But then it goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and it’s still being worked out. It’s not closed, right? Here they didn’t wanna take that chance. The summer’s heating up. There’s been even more violence since they’ve done this, and they’re trying to do something. So with the state of emergency, the bar gets shut down immediately, and that wouldn’t happen without Kathy Sheehan having done that.

Interviewer: So what recourse does the bar owner have and how do you see all of this playing out?

Paul: Yeah, I think it’s super clear that they’re probably in the process, today, of getting in front of the judge and getting what they call a T.R.O., or temporary restraining order, and saying, “Hey, this state of emergency is not enough. You didn’t prove enough. Keep us open. Let us be open while we litigate this.” Because, as the bar owner mentioned, there’s 20 employees. There is just the time, you know, the amount of cash that you gonna lose. So he’s hoping that a judge will say, “Okay, you back on. We’re gonna look at this and not allow this to go forward.” If the judge doesn’t do that, now he has to resort to just litigation. And that’s not gonna be timely. That’s gonna take, you know, weeks, months, etc. And whether he can withstand that or not, we don’t know.

Interviewer: All right, Paul, thanks so much for, of course, your professional insight into this. If you’d like more on this topic, just head to our website, cbs6albany.com.

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