LAWRENCE — The lights were on, the music played and the drinks were served past midnight at Marabu last night, after nightclub owner Nereyda Trempe won a third successive victory - even if it may be temporary - against the city's efforts to suspend her liquor license and roll back her hours.
Marabu's was to be open as usual until 1 this morning after state Superior Court Judge Robert Cornetta blocked the city's Licensing Board from enforcing its order requiring Trempe to close at 11 p.m. through Nov. 15, starting last night. The board imposed the penalty after finding Trempe had installed an outdoor stage without a permit.
The temporary injunction suspending the city order will allow Trempe to operate normally until the court can hear her appeal that the city's order was flawed. In brief arguments before Cornetta on Thursday, Trempe's lawyer focused on what he said were technical problems with the order, including that the Licensing Board gave Trempe only 13 days notice of the hearing it held on the issue rather than the 14 that are required.
Cornetta enjoined the city from closing Marabu early after finding Trempe demonstrated a "reasonable likelihood of success upon the merits" and would suffer irreparable harm if her bar were closed early and she were later to win her case, which are standards courts must find before they can issue injunctions.
He scheduled a pre-trial session for Sept. 29.
Cornetta's temporary injunction made it three in a row for Trempe in her efforts to dodge the city's orders against her Union Street nightclub, which has become one of the city's most lawless in recent months.
The Licensing Board suspended Marabu's liquor license for five days in May and for five days more in June for serving a minor and for failing to correct building code violations. Trempe appealed the suspensions to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Boston, allowing her to remain open while her appeals are heard.
Round four is scheduled for Aug. 24, when the Licensing Board will consider a shooting in a Marabu bathroom on July 5 - a night the bar would have been closed had Trempe not appealed the liquor license suspension.
Trempe did not respond to a message left at Marabu yesterday afternoon.
"I think they made a big mistake," said Rick Fielding, chairman of the Licensing Board. "If the ABCC and the judge is going to favor her, good luck to us. The Licensing Board has done its job."