For the prosecutor, Harold Simandl.
For the respondent, Walter D. Van Riper (Samuel B. Helfand and Emerson A. Tschupp, of counsel).
Before Justices Bodine, Heher and Wachenfeld.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
WACHENFELD, J. The prosecutor is the holder of a plenary retail consumption license in the City of Newark and seeks to set aside the determination of the Deputy Commissioner of the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control finding that the prosecutor allowed, permitted and suffered the consumption of alcoholic beverages on its licensed premises by certain minors on December 15th, 1945, in violation of Rule 1 of State Regulations No. 20 and suspending its retail consumption license for a period of twenty days.
The prosecutor operates a large hotel consisting of many sleeping rooms, public bar and restaurant, night club and a number of large rooms and halls which are rented on special occasions for weddings, banquets, &c.
On the night in question, December 15th, 1945, there were a number of functions being held in the various banquet rooms in the prosecutor's establishment. In the Terrace Annex a Christmas banquet had been arranged for a certain paint company and when the reservation was sought an inquiry was made as to whether or not there were going to be any minors and the plant manager, who was arranging the affair, replied, "I doubt it."
The hotel's general manager, its banquet manager and maitre d'hotel were apparently all men of broad experience. The hotel employed only a few "regular" waiters and "extra" waiters were obtained from the local waiters' union to serve these various private parties which were held in the banquet rooms. The hotel was obliged to take the men assigned by the union having jurisdiction and they were warned by the hotel management against serving minors.
The customary procedure on these occasions was to place in the middle of the tables pitchers of beer to be consumed by the guests, but because of the difficulties which arose, the waiters on this occasion were instructed not to place the pitchers of beer on the tables but to put them on side tables so that the guests could help themselves. When the guests arrived between seven and seven-thirty P.M., they were "screened" to determine whether any minors were present and an inquiry was made of the committee in reference thereto
and answered in the negative. Certain supervisory visits were made after the dinner was started, in an attempt to enforce the instructions given and to see that there were no disorders or intoxication and that minors were not being served.
The testimony nevertheless revealed that ten minors of high-school age attended this dinner and were seated at various tables with adults. The instructions given to some of the waiters apparently were disregarded and they placed pitchers of beer on the tables they were serving. Three of these minors were sixteen years of age and the fourth was seventeen and all four of them admitted consuming a number of glasses of beer. The evidence indicates that the waiters were not present when this occurred, and some of the youngsters, being conscious of the fact that they were not supposed ...