Montgomery Circuit Court’s Exercise of Supervisory Jurisdiction Held Improper
EMBU, Inc. v. Tallapoosa County Commission
– Municipal / Government Litigation
EMBU initiated an action in the Montgomery County Circuit Court via a pleading entitled “petition for writ of certiorari and declaratory judgment” against the Tallapoosa County Commission, the individual commissioners, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (“ABC Board”). EMBU is the owner and operator of a Tallassee, Alabama convenience store. It alleged that one day after the ABC Board granted it a liquor license, the Board “revoked and rescinded” the license after the County Commission denied approval of the license. EMBU alleged that the Commission’s denial of the license was unconstitutional as being, among other things, arbitrary and capricious. The petition prayed for specific relief, including an order setting aside the decision of the Commission.
The Commission filed an answer generally denying the allegations in the complaint. The Board also answered, and moved to dismiss on the grounds that the Board members were immune from liability and that the Board lacked authority to issue a license without Commission approval. The trial court entered an order indicating that it had conducted a hearing regarding EMBU’s “motion for emergency relief,” and the court denied EMBU’s motion. The court granted the Board members’ motion to dismiss. The court also granted an oral motion at a hearing to dismiss the claims against the individual commissioners, leaving the Commission itself as the only remaining defendant. After a subsequent evidentiary hearing, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of the Commission as to “all issues” in the case. EMBU appealed.
The only issue on appeal was whether the trial court properly entered a judgment in favor of the County Commission – specifically, whether the decision denying the liquor license was arbitrary and capricious. However, prior to reaching the ultimate issue on appeal, the Court of Civil Appeals held that the judgment of the Montgomery County Circuit Court was void. The court held that the circuit court’s exercise of supervisory jurisdiction was improper, as the Tallapoosa County Commission was located outside the territorial limits of the Montgomery County Circuit Court.