Chattanooga's Blue Light nightclub appeals beer permit revocation in Chancery Court

Hearings will continue Wednesday before Judge Jeffrey Atherton in Chancery Court inside the Hamilton County Courthouse regarding six violations involving the Blue Light nightclub on Station Street.

The violations, ranging from a staff member being intoxicated while on duty to selling alcohol off premises to operating a disorderly place and failing to report to police a disorder, all allegedly took place between Sept. 5 and Oct. 31. The bar opened the final week of August.

The first day of hearings started just after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and ended just before 6:30 p.m.

While not the subject of Tuesday's proceedings, the hearings convened a week after a June 19 shooting in the heart of the city's tourism district left two women with non-life-threatening injuries.

The venue is appealing the autumn violations and the proposed revocation of the Blue Light's beer permit, handed down by the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board on Nov. 4 and Nov. 18. Atherton opened the hearing by admonishing members of the media not to livestream any of the hearings or make online reports.

After returning from the first break of the day, the judge dressed down the media again after a member of one of the local TV news crews apparently posted a tweet about the proceedings, causing Atherton to give media members the choice of turning over all of their electronic devices or leaving.

At issue, Atherton said, was that he did not want any of the remaining witnesses - who were outside the courtroom waiting to be called - to be influenced by any other testimony. He later instructed the court clerk to instruct the media to limit their reporting to opening statements by City Attorney Phil Noblett and Scott Maucere, attorney for the Blue Light and owners Brian Joyce and Joseph Bruns.

The Blue Light opened in August on Station Street, which has become the city's premier entertainment spot for adults - as it is home to the Back Stage and Comedy Catch - in part of the space formerly occupied by the live music venue Songbirds South. It is across the street from Westbound and Regan's Place and the newly opened Boneyard Bar.

It is also near several other restaurants and bars inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo and is a block off Main Street on the city's Southside.

Blue Light is primarily a dance club that mostly operates Thursday-Sunday from about 10 p.m. to as late as 3 a.m. It has become a popular place for not only patrons, but people who like to drive through, or hang out, on Station Street.

In his opening remarks, Noblett said the city would show that the permit revocation was warranted based on the number of violations, especially in light of the fact they occurred so soon after the venue opened, the variety of the violations and the fact that the Beer Board handed down several suspensions and, eventually, a revocation order.

Maucere argued that the Blue Light was being targeted by the Beer Board and Chattanooga police officers "because it is popular and multi-cultural."

The club has been cited nine times for a variety of violations since December. The Blue Light has argued since November that it is not responsible for what happens outside its actual premise and insists it has had no violations within those confines since opening.

Five people, including Joyce and three Chattanooga police officers, testified Tuesday.

Witnesses to the June 19 shooting off Station Street told the Chattanooga Times Free Press last week that at least one of the women injured was involved in an altercation at the Blue Light shortly before being shot in a parking lot at 1400 Rossville Ave., several hundred feet away. Police have arrested a suspect in the shooting, Shandericka Williams, 23.

The June 19 shooting came on the heels of another high-profile Chattanooga shooting.

Shortly after 2:30 a.m. June 5, police believe multiple shooters opened fire on McCallie Avenue in front of Mary's Bar & Grill. In addition to the gunfire, several people were injured as a car attempted to leave the scene. Owners of Mary's have said the crowd gathered in front of their establishment came from elsewhere in the city.

In all, three people were killed: Darian Hixson, 24, Myrakle Moss, 25, and Kevin Brown, 34. A total of 14 people were injured in the incident.

Police have since arrested three men in connection with the shooting. Garrian King, 28, was arrested June 9 and charged with possessing a firearm as a felon. Alexis Lewis, 36, was arrested June 13 and charged with criminal homicide, reckless endangerment and possession of a firearm during the commission or attempt to commit a dangerous felony. Rodney Harris was charged June 14 for possession of a firearm as a felon.

Police released a timeline of the McCallie Avenue shooting on June 17, and it traced the events back to "a large fight on Station Street" at 1:42 a.m.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.