The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) held its first-ever bench-bar conference yesterday, a forum focused on bridging the gap between attorneys who represent ABC licensees and the ABC board and administrative law judges who hear their cases and make decisions.
Cosponsored by The Virginia Bar Association Administrative Law Section, the conference was a success with attorneys and officials attending the event from across the state. Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker gave welcoming remarks, encouraging open communication and dialogue between all parties. “This is an opportunity to discuss issues and procedures with one another when there isn’t a case in controversy. The more we do this the better the process will be down the road. I hope this conference becomes an annual event,” she said.
The conference centered on four panel sessions underscoring best practices for ABC initial and appeals hearings including, “License Application Objections,” “Evidence and Discovery,” Penalty Waivers and Offers,” and “Ethics Concerns in ABC Proceedings.” ABC Chairman J. Neal Insley, Esq., Virginia State Bar President-Elect Kevin E. Martingayle, Esq., Thomas A. Lisk, Esq., Michael P. Lafayette, Esq., and ABC Chief Operating Officer Curtis Coleburn, Esq., among others, were speakers.
“One of the primary goals of the conference was to encourage an informal dialogue between lawyers who practice at ABC and the adjudicators,” said Margaret Reed, ABC director of judicial and legislative affairs. “We had discussions about issues that are commonly raised in ABC cases, and overall facilitated a better understanding between the bench and the bar,” she said.
“Improving the quality and effectiveness of the ABC hearings process furthers the public safety interests of the community and enhances customer service to our licensees and applicants,” said Insley. “This was a highly beneficial forum for all involved. We thank the Virginia Bar Association for co-sponsoring the event with us, and look forward to hosting more bench-bar conferences in the future.”
Virginia ABC Hosts Bench-Bar Conference To Improve Quality of Hearings Process