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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Even State AG Luther Strange Seemingly Is Aware That VictoryLand Raid Rests On Shaky Legal Ground

Macon County Judge Thomas Young

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange must not be too confident that the results of his raid on the VictoryLand casino will hold up. He shouldn't be, of course, given that the Alabama Supreme Court acted in a flagrantly unconstitutional fashion when it ordered Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Young to approve a search warrant on VictoryLand.

The new findings of a state regulatory board provide VictoryLand with additional ammunition for its argument that electronic-bingo machines at the facility legal. Meanwhile, Strange is seeking to have Judge Young removed from the case.

How will it all shake out? We will know more on March 19, when a hearing is set on VictoryLand's motion to have its property returned.

We know this much already: Luther Strange is acting like a desperate man--and perhaps he has good reason to behave that way. After all, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) has announced that it approved a liquor license for the VictoryLand casino.  In making its ruling, ABC found that it could not conclude the activities at VictoryLand are illegal.

On one hand, the ABC ruling might seem like a moot point, in the aftermath of Strange's raid. But Charlanna Spencer, an attorney for the casino, said the ABC decision supports VictoryLand’s argument that it is operating within the law. Attorneys for casino owner Milton McGregor are likely to emphasize that in their argument at the March 19 hearing.

Is VictoryLand likely to have its property returned? Strange must be concerned about it because he is asking Judge Young to recuse himself. Reports the Montgomery Advertiser:

Deputy Attorney General Sonny Reagan, in the motion, questions whether Young can be fair and impartial. 
“Judge Young’s cumulative record of clearly erroneous actions requiring reversal by the Supreme Court of Alabama in this and previous matters concerning alleged illegal gambling activities at the VictoryLand casino, together with his repeated criticisms of state officials seeking to enforce Alabama’s anti-gambling laws against VictoryLand, would cause any reasonable person to question Judge Young’s impartiality in matters pertaining to gambling at VictoryLand,” Reagan wrote.

The AG's recusal motion has a few problems. One, Young's ruling on the search-warrant application was not clearly erroneous. It was a discretionary ruling supported by relevant facts and law. It also was supported by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, which denied the AG's petition for a writ of mandamus. That the Alabama Supreme Court ultimately granted mandamus does not remotely require Young's recusal; we are aware of no evidence indicating that Judge Young has a conflict of interest or personal bias against the state. Two, the mere fact that Young ruled against the AG on a search warrant does not justify recusal, under the law. Three, even the Alabama Supreme Court found in its 46-page ruling that the law is muddled on electronic bingo, raising this question: How could Young be expected to find probable cause that a law was being violated when even the state's high court cannot seem to identify solid law related to electronic bingo in Macon County?

From a public-relations standpoint, the AG's recusal motion makes him look like a world-class hypocrite. Reports the Montgomery Advertiser:

Joe Espy, an attorney representing VictoryLand, noted that the state opposed a similar recusal motion in Houston County last year. The Houston County Economic Development Authority requested Circuit Judge Mike Conaway to step away from a case involving electronic bingo at the Center Stage facility near Dothan. The group alleged Conaway had ties to local businessmen who were anti-gambling and had been appointed by Gov. Bob Riley, who initiated efforts to shut down gambling in the state.

At the time, Attorney General Luther Strange’s office argued that even if proof of such allegations could be found that would not disqualify Conaway from the case.

“The state’s position was adamant that the judge not be recused,” Espy said, accusing the attorney general of being more interested in winning the case “rather than being consistent and fair.”

Our guess is that Judge Young will refuse to step away from the case, and in our view, that would be the correct decision. If Strange puts the matter before his buddies on the Alabama Supreme Court, they might force Young to recuse.

But that brings us to perhaps the two key questions on the VictoryLand matter: How long will the Alabama Supreme Court continue to overrule circuit judges--not to mention the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals--so that Luther Strange can have his way? Will the state's high court reach a point where even it is embarrassed by an AG's office that clearly is driven by political motivations?

Luther Strange's actions in recent days indicate those questions are firmly planted in the back of his mind. He is leading the state's judiciary toward a potential PR disaster. How long will the public tolerate a high court that repeatedly abuses procedure by substituting its discretion for that of local judges? How long will the public tolerate a high court that puts its stamp of approval on government intrusions that appear to be unlawful because they are not grounded in probable cause?

Alabamians long have displayed a preference for control at the local level, for the authority of small government over the heavy hand of big government. Alabamians long have cast disapproving eyes at government intrusions on private affairs. That means the ice, at some point, is likely to get thin under the feet of Luther Strange and the Alabama Supreme Court.

We might be reaching that point pretty soon.

25 comments:

Coyote Lane said...

The Supreme Court in Alabama may have very dirty laundry. Then the motive could be simply unadulterated greed beyond measure.

Money worshiping by the Baptists in the Southern world may be about the anointed oil of electronic bingo in the retirements somehow tied to whatever contract remains hidden in the strangest place where only the tribal unlawful get to go.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/have-justice-department-investigate-murder-author-philip-marshall-and-his-son-and-daughter-murphys/JB99RB2p

Please sign and have everyone sign the petition, then let us begin our work in petitions.

It is obvious the petitions in the Alabama "Judicial" are definitely in need of signatures that continue signing until all the fraudulent signatures - Luther and his Supreme Kickers - are digital dust exactly as what is.

Anonymous said...

Luther sucks as a person and an attorney!

TLR said...

LS, you make a great point here. Judge Young actually behaved like a conservative. He was very cautious about allowing a government intrusion on private property. You would think Luther Strange and the GOP thugs on the Supreme Court would appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

If Alabama Democrats have a pair, they will make sure Judge Young runs for AL Supreme Court next time around.

Anonymous said...

I understand Luther Strange's Head Aide Jessica Medeiros Garrison spent much of the last week debriefing the AG in New Orleans.

Unfortunately she wasn't able to find any hard evidence - nothing that would stand up in court.

legalschnauzer said...

The best part about writing a post on Luther Strange is reading all the gutter comments that come in. LOL!

More . . . more!

legalschnauzer said...

I'm betting Luther winds up taking his recusal motion to Alabama Supreme Court

Anonymous said...

@10:42--

You made my day, my week, my year.

Haven't laughed that hard in I don't know when.

Anonymous said...

You need to hit the comedy club circuit, @10:42. Your material is blue, but it's funny as hell.

I haven't laughed like that since George Carlin died.

Anonymous said...

If a judge doesn't rubber stamp the AG's requests, big Luther wants him off the case. Sounds like some spoiled 3 year olds I know.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:42--

Like most great comedy, yours seems to be based in reality, in fact. Is it your understanding that Ms. Jessica was with Big Luther recently in New Orleans? Was that at the BP proceedings?

David in S. Alabama said...

"Luther Strange's Head Aide Jessica Medeiros Garrison spent much of the last week debriefing the AG in New Orleans", Hmmmmm....were they in a hot tub? Lawywers in Love. Somebody should turn this tale into a steamy romance novel.

David in S. Alabama said...

Judge Young followed the dictates of the Alabama Rules of Crimminal Procedure. Has Big Luther follow the same rules? Amendment 774 pertaining to bigo in Macon Co. gives the power to write the rules for Bingo to the Sheriff of Macon Co. and enforce them. Where does the Alabama Constitution, the Code of Alabama or Alabama Rules of Crimminal Procedure give Big Luther the authoriy to usurp the poweer granted to the Sheriff of Macon Co.in Amendment 774. It is also an estabilsh principle of law that higher courts shall not substitute their judgement for that of a lower court judge. Which is a whole different thing form deciding whether following the rules in rendering a decision

legalschnauzer said...

David:

You nailed it. You need to go to law school. You would have to agree to have your conscience surgically removed, but you certainly have the brain power.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be perfect if "Big" Luther and "Little" Luther and Jessica were hot tubbin' at the Harrah's Casino in the Big Easy?

Luther could say "Jessica - YOU CAN BE A WINNER TOO!" And Jessica would say "Your 'jackpot' is smaller than the one at the PCI Casino!"

Anonymous said...

Luther couldn't be seen at a casino. Illegal things happen there.

jeffrey spruill said...

Did the Sheriff seize VictoryLand's property after Judge Young was forced to approve a search warrant?

legalschnauzer said...

Jeff:

No, the attorney general's office seized the property after Judge Young was forced to approve search warrant. The sheriff has said he finds the machines to be legal under a constitutional amendment approved for Macon County. And the amendment puts the sheriff in charge of such determinations.

jeffrey spruill said...

Then Luther Strange has his own personal shock troops to do his bidding.

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, yes. This is all about the AG's office. The local sheriff says the machines are legal.

Anonymous said...

Proud of Judge Young at least he follows the rule of law. Luther makes it up as he goes along just like Riley did. He never followed the rule of law he just searched around until he could find the law that agreed with him.

Molli said...

Anon 2:46 I am not certain that Luther makes it up as he goes; I think it is highly probable that Riley is telling him every move to make. Luther is buffoon and has joined the organized crime family of Alabama. He does what the Don says to do.

Anonymous said...

Southern Methodist University

a corrected update on Bush family 'religion' plus Laura's story about selling pot at SMU.

What does this have to do with the rotten no good Republican criminals of the Dixie Mafia?

"... When the George W. Bush Library and Policy Institute is dedicated on April 25, 2013, at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, protestors will be there to demand the ex-president be held accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of U.S. and international law. President Barack Obama, former U.S. presidents and many heads of state are expected to attend the dedication ceremony....

.. A coalition of local, state and national peace and justice groups organizing the protest is inviting people from across the country to participate in an event called “The People’s Response.” According to Leslie Harris of CODEPINK Greater Dallas, “The illegal invasion of a sovereign nation was declared a ‘supreme crime’ at the Nuremberg trials. That Bush and his advisors walk free today is unconscionable; there must be accountability so history won’t repeat itself"......

... Rev. Bill McElvaney, professor emeritus, Perkins School of Theology at SMU, an early opponent of locating the George W. Bush Institute on campus, said, “The invasion of Iraq, and the approval of torture are violations of the United Methodist Social Principles, thus placing Southern Methodist University in contradiction to its own heritage as an institution of The United Methodist Church” ...

http://www.thepeoplesresponse.org/

Anonymous said...

Who wants to wager whether Strange Luther shows up for the upcoming hearing or anything else concerning Victoryland? Espy and Co. will eat his lunch and spit him out! Hoping this whole thing will end up in federal court soon. Since this idiot has never tried a case in court, he will undoubtedly be MIA And continue to make prepared "statements" and send his stooge Sonny Reagan.

Coyote Lane said...

Anon with the very fertile imagination is truly a necessary comic relief in the tragic reality.

George Carlin salutes your genius.

All readers at LS are blessed by your postings.

Thank you.