Liquor stores in Whiteclay to remain closed

Staff Writer

In a ruling filed Sept. 29, 2017, the Nebraska Supreme Court vacated the Lancaster County District Court's decision to allow the liquor stores in Whiteclay, Neb., to re-open and dismissed an appeal against the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission which denied the retailers' license renewal applications.

The Supreme Court filing states that the decision "rests solely on jurisdictional grounds" and that when the retailers sought review in the district court, "the retailers failed to include citizen objectors." According to the decision, to receive a judicial review, a party mut include all "parties of record" and local residents who formally object to the issuance of a liquor license are "parties of record."

The text of the Nature of the Case of the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision is below:

"The often unremarkable process of renewing a liquor license has involved considerable controversy for the four beer retailers in this case. These retailers are located in the unincorporated border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which is just across the state line from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where the sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited. The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission (Commission) denied the retailers' license renewal applications. Pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) the retailers petitioned for review to the Lancaster County District Court, which vacated the Commission's order. The Commission and some of the citizens objectors appealed.

"Our decision today does not address the merits of the parties respective positions, but rests solely on jurisdictional grounds. To obtain judicial review of an administrative agency's order under the APA, a party must include all "parties of record" form the agency proceeding. Under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act, local residents who formally object to the issuance of a liquor license (citizen objectors) are "parties of record" in the licensure proceeding before the Commission. In this case, when they sought review in the district court, the retailers failed to include the citizen objectors. Thus,the retailers did not comply with the requirements for judicial review under the APA and the district court lacked jurisdictional over the retailers' petition for review. Because the district court lacked jurisdiction, its order is void and we lack jurisdiction over this appeal from the district court. We vacate the district court's order and dismiss this appeal."