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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Is Luther Strange Taking Advantage Of A Pipeline That Bob Riley Built To The Alabama Supreme Court?

Luther Strange
How does the Alabama Supreme Court continue to rule in favor of Attorney General Luther Strange and against non-Indian gaming interests--regardless of the law and facts placed before it?

A reasonable Alabamian might pose that question, especially in the wake of reports that Strange is asking the high court to force Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Young to step down from the VictoryLand seizure case. Strange's request seems goofy, coming on the heels of his petition to ensure that Houston County Circuit Judge did NOT recuse himself from a similar case involving the Center Stage casino near Dothan.

To the casual observer, this might seem like nonsense, with neither Strange nor the Supreme Court showing any common sense or consistency. But Alabamians should remember that justices on the state's high court have been issuing questionable rulings on gambling-related issues for almost five years now. It dates to the last two years of the Bob Riley administration, and our research points to evidence of dark activity that cuts at the heart of the state's justice apparatus.

We are talking about unlawful communications with the court regarding pending cases. If proven, this probably would amount to federal crimes--the kind that might earn prison sentences for some of the state's most powerful officials.

First, we know that Luther Strange and Bob Riley are allies, thanks partly to their mutual connections with the Birmingham right-wing law firm Bradley Arant. In his last days as governor, Riley cut a deal with Strange in which he would help raise $2 million for the AG's possible gubernatorial run in 2014. In return,  Riley wanted "protection" and the procurement of business for his children.

That, of course, is the kind of "something for something" deal (quid pro quo) that amounts to bribery under federal law. But the story gets uglier from there.

In February 2010, less than a month after Riley had left office, the Montgomery Independent reported on evidence that the administration had engaged in unlawful communications with the Supreme Court on gambling-related cases. We covered the story, based on the reporting of Independent publisher Bob Martin, in a post titled "Was Monkey Business Involved In Supreme Court's Bingo Ruling?" From that post:

Lawyers for VictoryLand were surprised by a citation in a motion to vacate an injunction that had halted raids by the governor's task force at the Macon County facility. The citation was to a case styled Surles v. Ashland, and that was curious because the decision in Surles had not been released at the time the task force's motion was filed.

The episode suggests that someone at the Alabama Supreme Court was working in conjunction with the governor's office. This would not be the first time we've seen reports about possible improper communications between Riley's office and the Supreme Court. It also is not the first time we've seen signs that Alabama's highest court is fully capable of acting in a corrupt fashion.

Is Luther Strange now using an unlawful pipeline that Bob Riley put in place? If so, how profound is all of this? It means we have a court system that cannot be trusted, that is infested with unlawful political machinations. More from our earlier post:

Bob Martin, editor and publisher of the Independent, says the task force's motion was time stamped at 1:55:15 on January 29. The Surles decision was not released until 2:04 on January 29. Writes Martin:

According to Supreme Court Rules and policies no one, including attorneys in a case, are permitted to see or be told the details of a decision other than the justices and the court staff. Although attorneys for both sides are notified the result of a case two hours prior to its release, they are not told the details and lawyers with whom I talked said it would take clairvoyant skills for a lawyer to be confident enough to cite a case by only having knowledge about which side won or lost.

This conduct might go way beyond violations of Supreme Court rules. If the U.S. mails or wires were used, it likely would constitute obstruction of justice under federal law. Obstruction might be just the beginning of federal charges that could be brought in such a case.

Of course, that would require a U.S. Justice Department that is attentive and competent--and the Obama DOJ, under Eric Holder, has proven so far that it is neither.

How far are Luther Strange and the Alabama Supreme Court willing to push it with Bob Riley's "underground railroad" of judicial and political chicanery?

If the high court forces Judge Young off the VictoryLand case, we probably will have our answer.


Anonymous said...

I am disappointed in this story. When you referenced "Luther" and "pipe" I thought it was gonna be about one of my fave subjects.
- Jessica Medeiros Garrison

Anonymous said...

Hate to tell you, LS, but this is not breaking news. I think it's been apparent for a long time that the Alabama Supreme Court is in bed with Riley Inc. Business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Like most crooks, Team Riley gets careless. The VictoryLand lawyers and Bob Martin caught them with their pants around their ankles.

Anonymous said...

Is Luther straining to drop a deuce in that photo?

Spasmoda said...

How long will Luther's judge shopping go on, that is the question.

Anonymous said...

So much for the idea that "Godly" Roy Moore would bring some integrity to the Supreme Ct.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the $7.9 million dollars Riley secretly slipped Luther on Riley's last day in office. The money was for the BP disaster fund but Riley told Luther to use it to continue his crusade on gambling AND to protect his family. Luther accepted the money even though he had not yet been sworn into office as the AG. Thanks to some great reporting the transaction did not remain one of their many dirty little secrets.

Anonymous said...

Funny as I was reading this on CNN there are talking about an oil leak in Arkansas on a oil pipeline. Maybe the political pipeline will eventually get a leak! x

Anonymous said...

A very smart person told me one time that politicians should serve two terms. One in office and one in prison. I am inclined to agree.

Strange fits his name STRANGE..He looks deformed to me. Riley well I have nothing good to say about him either. I just wonder why no one can find the dirt on him. Who was he with in Alaska? Why will the native Americans not talk? who is afraid?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:28--

I like your line about politicians serving two terms. And you raise many compelling questions that get to the heart of the matter.

Anonymous said...

I think it's high time McGregor and company lowers the boom on Strange and the whole Riley, Inc.

jeffrey spruill said...

A DOJ that's attentive and competent. That's a joke right LS?


legalschnauzer said...


It wasn't meant as a joke, but now that you mention it, that's how it sounds.

David in S. Alabama said...

I have never been a fan of Roy Moore. But it appears that he and his fellow republican justices do what they are told to do. Which could mean that someone(s) is holding up file folders with their on the file tab.

I am also not a fan of of Milton McGreagor, either. But the alws of Alabama apply to him just tke same as me, LS, the commentors on this blog, Lutther Strange, Bob Riley, and every other citizen of this state.

Question: What would happen if McGreagor's lawyers moved to have Luther removed from his case because he took money that was funneled to him from the Creek Indians.

Anonymous said...

David, I've wondered the same thing! Why hasn't MM's attorney filed recusal motion?