An Amagansett man, who was charged last year under Suffolk County’s Social Host law, which targets adults who allow underage drinking in their homes, was found not guilty after a bench trial before East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky.
Arthur W. Bijur was arrested after he allowed his son, a student at the Ross School, to hold a party in his home, at which youths allegedly snuck in alcohol, after prom on May 14, 2017.
Justice Tekulsky did not pronounce a verdict after the January 18 trial, instead waiting until he had completed his written decision in which he blasted the social host law, as too vaguely written to be readily enforceable.
“Although any reasonable person would conclude that the defendant failed to take the most basic steps to ensure that there was no alcohol on the premises,” Justice Tekulsky wrote, “the ‘Social Host’ law as written does not impose such a duty on the responsible adult on the premises.”
Daniel Rodgers, a Southampton attorney, who represented Mr. Bijur, praised the judge’s decision, although he stressed his client took “extraordinary steps” to make sure there were no drugs or alcohol at the party. Mr. Bijur agreed to let his son have the party only under the condition that no alcohol or drugs be allowed in the home, that it be limited to 40 students and that they and their parents agree to the conditions he had set, Mr. Rodgers said.
He said Mr. Bijur, who wanted to give the students some privacy, made a mistake when he did not go down to the basement, where the drinking was taking place, until after a student, who had not been invited, showed up drunk and got ill. At that point, Mr. Bijur shut down the party and called an ambulance, Mr. Rodgers said.
He criticized East Hampton Town Police, who, he said, could have issued Mr. Bijur an appearance ticket. “Instead, they handcuffed the guy in front of all the kids and his son,” he said. “They wanted to make an example out of him.”