APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR
L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE DOWNING DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is a proceeding for administrative review. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.) Plaintiff, the mayor and local liquor control commissioner of the Village of Schaumburg (local commissioner), appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County affirming an order of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (State commission). The latter order reduced the period of suspension of the liquor license of defendant B. Ginnings, Ltd., from 20 days to three days. The issue on appeal is whether the circuit court properly affirmed the order of the State commission.
On March 29, 1976, plaintiff, as the mayor and local liquor control commissioner of the Village of Schaumburg, after a hearing, issued an order suspending the liquor license of defendant B. Ginnings, Ltd., for a period of 20 days. The order detailed the local commissioner's findings of fact from testimony taken at a public hearing which took place beginning on March 5, 1976. The findings generally were that employees of B. Ginnings (commonly referred to as "bouncers") had administered beatings, on a number of occasions, to patrons of the club while ejecting them from the premises; that officials and employees of the club had engaged in sexual activities with two minor females on the premises; and that minor females had been permitted to remain on the premises in violation of a local ordinance.
B. Ginnings appealed the decision of the local commissioner to the State commission pursuant to section 8 of article VII ("Licenses") of the Dramshop Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 43, par. 153). Review before the State commission was solely on the record of the proceedings before the local commission.
On April 21, 1976, the State commission entered an order, the chairman dissenting, which modified the period of suspension to three days. The order did not recite the reasons for the modification, or the facts upon which it was based.
On May 5, 1976, the local commissioner filed a complaint for administrative review of the State commission order. The complaint alleged, inter alia, that the local commissioner's order suspending the B. Ginnings license was within his discretion; that it was fully supported by the record of the hearing; that it was entered in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Dramshop Act; that the order of the State commission modifying the period of suspension was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and that the order invaded the discretion of the local commissioner. The complaint prayed that the order of the State commission be reversed and that the order of the local commissioner be affirmed.
The trial court reviewed the transcript of the hearing and entered an order affirming the order of the State commission. The order of the trial court contained findings that the local commissioner had proceeded in the manner provided by law, that the order was supported by the findings, that the findings were supported by substantial evidence in light of the entire record, and that the State commission had not abused its discretion in reducing the period of suspension. Although he ruled in favor of the State commission, the trial judge felt compelled to make the following comments:
"* * * I am going to affirm the decision of the State Liquor Control Commission, because I could find no basis upon which to reverse it.
I must say that I am shocked by the leniency displayed by the State Liquor Control Commission in this case. I feel that the Mayor's decision was very lenient. He apparently believed all or most of the testimony of the various complaining witnesses to the merry brawls, altercations, disputes and sexual abuses which took place on the premises.
To have the State Liquor Control Commission to reduce it to a mere slap on the wrist is beyond my comprehension, especially knowing what they have imposed on other cases and circumstances far, far less serious than this. However, I can find nothing in the law which gives me the right to set it aside or reinstate it. * * *"
The local commissioner argues on appeal that the trial court committed error because it mistakenly viewed its function as that of reviewing the discretion exercised by the State commission in reducing the period of suspension ordered by the local commissioner. The local commissioner argues that the trial court's role is to review the discretion exercised by the local commissioner and is limited to a consideration of three questions set forth in section 8 of article VII ("Licenses") of the Dramshop Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 43, par. 153), namely:
"(a) whether the local liquor control commissioner has proceeded in the ...