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Monday, April 29, 2013

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Agents For Luther Strange Unlawfully Destroyed Property in VictoryLand Raid


The February raid at VictoryLand
Agents of the Alabama Attorney General's Office damaged or destroyed property in a February raid at the VictoryLand casino, according to a federal lawsuit filed by Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and other residents of Macon County.

The lawsuit also contends the Alabama Supreme Court wildly misinterpreted an 1899 case that was central to its order that forced Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Young to approve a search-warrant application from Attorney General Luther Strange.

Lawyers for the Macon County residents make a compelling case that Strange's agents violated the terms of a search warrant that they never should have been granted in the first place.

According to the federal complaint--prepared by attorneys Donald LaRoach, of Brockton, Massachusetts, and Christopher Ford, of Tuskegee--Strange's agents seized 1,600 electronic-bingo machines and more than $220,000 in cash during a February 19 raid. (The full lawsuit can be viewed at the end of this post.) In the process, the complaint states, agents went beyond the boundaries of the  search warrant. From page 24 of the lawsuit:

During the raid, agents destroyed VictoryLand property and closed its pari-mutuel wagering operation and its restaurant, even though those businesses were not the subject of the search warrant and Defendants have never questioned the legality of those operations. 
Pursuant to the terms of the search warrant and an order entered by the Macon County Circuit Judges, the Attorney General's agents were supposed to preserve the integrity of the machines for later testing and take care not to damage any of the equipment. 
Instead, agents under the direction and control of the Attorney General cut the wires from a number of machines and damaged and destroyed others.

While representatives of the AG's office were acting like thugs during the VictoryLand raid, they were acting like con men in courtroom proceedings, according to the federal lawsuit. As an example, Ford's lawyers point to the AG's reliance on a case styled Benners v. State ex. rel. Heflin, 124 Ala. 97 (1899).

Attorneys for the AG's office cited Benners for the proposition that it authorized the Alabama Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus, forcing Judge Young to approve a search warrant in Macon County. But lawyers for Ford point out that Benners dealt with an arrest warrant, not a search warrant, and the heart of the Benners finding was overturned 10 years later. On top of that, the adoption of subsequent federal and state laws appear to make Benners a non-factor in the modern-day courtroom.

In summary, Benners apparently has not been good law in Alabama for more than 100 years--but the state's highest court used it to justify giving Luther Strange a search warrant. Here is how the Ford lawyers explain it:

The Benners case dealt with arrest warrants, not search warrants. And the Benners case forced a local justice of the peace to issue an arrest warrant, something the Supreme Court subsequently described as "a purely ministerial act" and only appropriate there because the justice of the peace "had no judicial discretion in the matter." Ten years later, the Alabama Supreme Court recognized that Benners does not apply when judicial discretion is at issue. The subsequent case limiting the Benners decision is not mentioned in the Attorney General's brief, apparently because he did not want them to read it. Moreover, the Benners case pre-dates the application of the Fourth Amendment to the states, the Alabama search warrant statutes, and the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The actions of Luther Strange, his surrogates, and the Alabama Supreme Court have been highly questionable in the VictoryLand matter for quite some time. They become even more so when you read the complaint in Mayor Johnny Ford's federal lawsuit.



34 comments:

Anonymous said...

LS, you must be mistaken. Luther Strange hires only professionals of the highest integrity.

Anonymous said...

What if a judge orders Luther to return the property, and his thugs have damaged or destroyed a bunch of it?

Anonymous said...

This can't be. Luther was going to "test" these machines to show that they are illegal "gambling devices." Surely he wouldn't destroy them.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:21--

It looks like he did destroy some of them . . . and don't call me Shirley.

Anonymous said...

Good point, @11:18. Who is going to pay for that? Taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Oh, so someone finally figured out that the case from 1899 maybe is slightly dated? Good grief!

Anonymous said...

I've been conducting some legal research and found a case from 1693 that says bingo in Alabama shall forevermore be illegal. Should I send that to Luther?

Spasmoda said...

If some of VictoryLand's property has been destroyed, that sounds like Luther made a determination in advance that the machines were illegal. No need to ensure that Milton McGregor & Co. are afforded due process, right?

Anonymous said...

Has Luther's head aide debriefed him on this issue?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Luther's Head Aide, I hear Luther still pays her substantial sums from his campaign funds. How is that different from what Luther alleges Lowell Barron has done.

Bill Britt has an interesting article on the Lowell Barron case today. Britt says its routine for candidates to give "win bonuses" to campaign workers. Luther seems to be saying that practice is illegal when Lowell Barron does it. But I'm hearing that Luther himself pays "win bonuses" on a regular bases to his Head Aide.


http://www.alreporter.com/al-politics/political-news/state-news/4546-are-barron-johnson-indictments-a-foreshadow-of-things-to-come.html

legalschnauzer said...

I just received an interesting comment to my April 17 post on Luther Strange. Wasn't sure how many folks would see the comment on an old post, so wanted to share here. Seems to raise questions about the issue of campaign funds, and their use after a campaign is over:


Anonymous said...
Jessica Garrison and her company, MDM 27 Holdings, Inc. received over $260,000 from Luther Strange's Campaign Account according to his 2010,2011, and 2012 campaign reports: $33,245.07 to Jessica Garrison for Administration, Food, Transportation, Lodging, Postage, and Fundraising; $196,727.99 to MDM 27 Holdings, Inc. for Administration (6/24/10 -12/13/10); and $31,000 to MDM 27 Holdings, Inc. for Consulting (1/4/11 -11/30/11).

Anonymous said...

MDM27 Holdings - whose sole incoroprator is Jessica Medeiros Garrison - was actually incorporated as Alabama Politics Inc. on November 21, 2006. This is an interesting date as Luther Strange wrote a check (for a whopping $17,500) to Alabama Politics Inc. on NOVEMBER 9, 2006 - almost two weeks BEFORE it was incorporated.

Also - Luther wrote that check AFTER THE END OF A LOSING CAMPAIGN TO JESSICA GARRISON FOR $17,500. NOT coincedentally, Jessica gave birth 5 months later.

If Barron is guilty so is Luther. Game, set, and match.

legalschnauzer said...

Luther ran for Lt. Gov. in 2006? Is that the race he lost to Jim Folsom in the general election?

Anonymous said...

That's correct - Luther lost race for Lite Gov in 2006 then wrote bonus check(for $17,500) to GF. There is NO WAY Barron can be guilty unless Luther is also. Period.

Anonymous said...

Would Luther claim that his post-2010 payments to Jessica M. Garrison are proper because they are reasonably related to work for the office he holds? And is he claiming the Lowell Barron payments are unlawful because he lost the 2010 race, and therefore, did not hold office?

That seems to be an odd interpretation of the law: If you win your campaign, it's OK to spend on personal stuff because it can be claimed as related to the office; but if you lose, spending on personal stuff is a crime.

@2:29's comments are very interesting because that involved a campaign that Luther lost.

This all sounds like some of the hair-splitting that Leura Canary's gang did in the Siegelman case.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 2:57--

Could Luther stoop so low as to claim the statute of limitations has run on his payment to GF? I don't know what the SOL is on such matters, but that would be an incredibly weak PR move for him to make such a claim: "Hey, I did the same thing as Lowell Barron, but I didn't get caught in time."

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:01 - see comments at 2:57 about big money paid by Luther to GF AFTER LOSING election in 2006.

If Barron is guilty so is Luther.

Anonymous said...

LS - Luther Strange is a world-class hypocrite. I would not put anything past him.

Anonymous said...

Why are Repugs picking on Lowell Barron after he lost? They normally only worry about Dems who win. Are they concerned that Barron's planning a political comeback in '14?

Anonymous said...

Barron has over a half-million bucks in his campaign account. I don't think a single GOP senator has that much. Damn right they are concerned about him.

Anonymous said...

Big Lying. Big Hypocrisy. Big Adultery. Big Homewrecking. Big Paternity Suits. Big Casino Bribes.

Big Luther.

Anonymous said...

MM should start collecting evidence of Strange's criminal dealings. When he takes the stand, just start spouting it out with the proof in hand. I hear it's worked in CA with corrupt thugs ie; judges and lawyers. The proceeding gets ended right there on spot! And it's on record!

Anonymous said...

I would be shocked if Barron doesn't run again in 2014. He has so much as said so on his FB page a while back. The Repubs know that he will be elected again and are back at their game of trying to destroy the Dem competition. This indictment comes as no surprise.

Anonymous said...

LS..does anyone know when the Federal hearing will be held?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 5:51--

I don't know of any hearings that have been set so far. My guess is that Luther and Bentley will file motions to dismiss, probably claiming some form of state immunity. I suspect that will be the first order of business. Such motions probably will be filed soon, if they haven't been already, with a hearing to follow. If the case gets to discovery, with Luther having to testify under oath, that could get interesting.

Anonymous said...

@4:48. I believe you are referring to evidence being revealed about the presiding judge when there is evidence of wrong doing. I've heard about that happening and it was rather entertaining.

jeffrey spruill said...

Moreover, the Benners case pre-dates the application of the Fourth Amendment to the states

Isn't the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights Mr. Schnauzer?

legalschnauzer said...

I believe it is. Of course, I'm not sure the Bill of Rights applies in Alabama, or any number of other states.

jeffrey spruill said...

That's why I read LS-- to obtain knowledge.

Isn't the Bill of Rights attached to the US Constitution?

Anonymous said...

In addition to being Luther Strange’s campaign manager, J. M. Garrison was the chair/treasurer of the PAC, “Election Political Action Committee,” during the 2010 campaign. Luther Strange received $64,050 of the $73,340 distributed. Nine other candidates received varying amounts of the remaining $9,290. Following the election, ELECTION PAC gave $12,223.13 to “Attorney General Luther Strange Transition and Inaugural Committee, Inc.” which was solely incorporated by J. M. Garrison.

Anonymous said...

Where Mike Hubbard and Brett Buerck got their business model for "Majority Strategies":

Look at this description from Wikipedia about how Jack Abramoff and former Bob Riley Chief of staff Michael Scanlon did their business:

"Abramoff directed clients to use Scanlon's firm for political campaign services, without disclosing his own relationship with Scanlon. Scanlon's firm would then only perform part of the campaign services billed for, and would split the excess money received with Abramoff in a scheme known to the two as 'Gimme Five'."

Now - in a flight of slight fancy - let's change the names:

Hubbard directed clients to use Buerck's firm for political campaign services, without disclosing his own relationship with Buerck. Buerck's firm would then only perform part of the campaign services billed for, and would split the excess money received with Hubbard in a scheme known to the two as "Gimme Five".

It's the same plan.



























Anonymous said...

LS this is from 4 days ago per website and http://www.oanow.com/news/state/article_afca273c-aeda-11e2-99f8-0019bb30f31a.html

It appears Strange is threatening Ford and crew...LOL..

Donald LaRoche, who is representing Ford and others named as plaintiffs in the case, said that as of Friday, attorneys representing Bentley were the only ones he was aware of who had responded to summonses. LaRoche said defendants typically have at least 21 days to respond after receiving a summons. When contacted by the Opelika-Auburn News, a spokesperson with Strange’s office said the attorney general had until next week to respond to the suit.

According to court documents, LaRoche filed a motion to cease attempts to intimidate and delay on April 17 after receiving a letter from Solicitor General John C. Neiman Jr. on behalf of Strange threatening sanctions against him and Ford if the suit was not dropped within seven days of receiving the letter.

legalschnauzer said...

Glad to see O-A News is keeping up with this. Thanks for sharing.

Robby Scott Hill said...

In April of 1865 this conversation takes place at a bar in Montgomery, Alabama: "Damn that Abraham Lincoln & his 13th & 14th Amendments, encouraging those uppity Ni@@ers & White Trash to think they could ever be equal to a landed White Man with money in the bank. Damn his Communist hide straight to Hell! Before you know it, White Women will be marrying Ni@@ers & having Mulatto babies. 150 years from now the United States will have a Mulatto President who will be governing this nation on the principles of that scoundrel Abraham Lincoln. Our grandchildren will have to spend all their money on lawyers to fight Ni@@erdom unless we create some sort of Klan to subvert the court system and keep the Blacks & White Trash in their places. Let's stop in Tennessee on our way to Chicago to talk to our old friend General Nathan Bedford Forrest.